A parliamentary pharmacy advocacy group has urged the Government to invest in technology to ensure greater collaboration between GPs and pharmacists.

In a letter sent last month to pharmacy minister Steve Brine, All-Party Pharmacy Group (APPG) chair Sir Kevin Barron called on the Government to fund IT systems to allow ‘better integration’ between community pharmacies and GP practices.

This followed a session held by the group in October, in which the chief executive officers of the three pharmacy negotiating bodies in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland discussed the role of pharmacy in primary care.

A Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) spokesperson told The Pharmacist today (5 December) that Mr Brine has not responded to the letter yet.


‘Disconnect in many areas’


During the meeting, the APPG said that there is still a ‘disconnect in many areas’ across the UK between GP practices and pharmacies.

It added: ‘Commissioners and providers must invest in IT systems that allow for better integration between GP practices and community pharmacies, and the sharing of health records.

‘Contractual arrangements should provide incentives for closer working, rather than – as can be the case at present – disincentives.’


Role of pharmacy in mental health


Sir Kevin argued that the Government should commit ‘a greater proportion of mental health provision’ to pharmacy to help tackle the ‘growing crisis in caring for people with mental health problems’.

The APPG said: ‘Community pharmacy’s ability to help with the mental health crisis is overlooked. It can play a greater role in providing people with a much-needed service comprising advice and support for those people in need.

‘Therefore as part of the Budget’s commitment to invest in mental health services, community pharmacies’ role needs to be take in to account.

‘With greater political will, community pharmacy could play an even more central role, easing the pressure in other parts of the health system.’

Last month, Prime Minister Theresa May pledged an extra £3.5bn for primary care by 2023/24, as part of the £20bn funding boost for the NHS, to ensure that more patients are cared for at home and in the community, rather than in hospitals.