Pharmacists and other providers in primary care will be expected to play a large role in preventive care under new health reforms set out by the Government.

In a speech at the Royal College of Physicians yesterday (9 March) Sajid Javid set out his vision for how the health service will evolve to cope with rising challenges, with a major focus on prevention with primary care service at its ‘heart’.

The health secretary suggested that prevention has been ‘consistently under-prioritised and underutilised’ within the NHS, adding that the Government must place pharmacists and other primary care staff ‘at the heart of this new agenda’.

Mr Javid said he was aware there is ‘a sense that primary care is far too stretched to be proactive on prevention’ and added that there is a need for ‘reform that works for populations and the profession alike’.

However, he did not clarify what these reforms may entail, or how they will support GPs.

He did note that Claire Fuller, senior responsible officer for the Surrey Heartlands ICS, is currently conducting a review into how Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) can support primary care networks (PCNs).

Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp), welcomed the new agenda and said that community pharmacies are ‘perfectly placed’ and ‘trained’ to deliver it.

‘It’s an exciting and promising vision and community pharmacies are keen to be part of it. What we require now is the detail, what’s expected of us. We hope to be listened to and involved in the very early planning stages, not as in the past - just given sparse and ill thought through orders at the 11th hour,’ she said.

Thorrun Govind, chair of Royal Pharmaceutical Society in England said: ‘Pharmacists working across the health service will be crucial to supporting the NHS recovery and how we transform services for the future.

‘Medicines are the most common health intervention in the NHS and pharmacists will be central to supporting ambitions around personalised care, shared decision-making and ensuring best value for taxpayers.

‘We also know that pharmacists will play a leading role in personalised medicines and how we can identify and treat disease.’

She went on to add that there was ‘a clear case’ for pharmacists to help support people living with long-term conditions so that we can manage growing demand on the NHS.

‘This must include fresh thinking regarding service commissioning, including making the most of pharmacist independent prescribers,’ she explained.

She also called for ‘sustained investment’ in the pharmacy sector, as well as the ‘accelerated roll-out of read-write access to patient records for pharmacists wherever they may work.’