Sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) should integrate community pharmacies, the pharmacy minister has said.

STPs are local commissioning bodies made up of representatives from local councils and NHS organisations that draw up and implement strategies to meet their populations' health needs.

Answering a question in the House of Commons on 20 March, MP for Winchester Steve Brine said that ‘community pharmacies themselves should be integrated through STPs, because it is one NHS’.

Pharmacists’ integration in primary care

MP for St Austell and Newquay Steve Double asked Mr Brine whether he agreed that enhancing the role of community pharmacies could address some of the pressures currently faced by GPs.

Mr Brine said: ‘We know that there are benefits to be had from the better integration of community pharmacies with sustainability and transformation partnerships.

‘Through the pharmacy integration fund (PhIF), we are integrating pharmacists into primary care.

‘I hear good reports about how that is going and we will have 2,000 of them in general practice by 2020.

‘Community pharmacies themselves should also be integrated, through STPs, because it is one NHS.’

‘Pharmacies overlooked’

Responding to his comment, head of corporate affairs at the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) Gareth Jones said that ‘pharmacies are too often overlooked by STPs'.

He added: ‘The NPA calls on Government to provide guidance to STPs on the vital role we play within primary care - and the fantastic insight we can provide in the design of local health services that are fit for the future.

‘For our part, we will continue to engage with any enlightened STPs and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) that fully recognise the clinical and cost benefits of integrating community pharmacy into their plans.’