Pharmacies that fail to prioritise the patient voice have been dubbed “peculiar” by a Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) director.
The comment was made by Alistair Buxton, director of NHS services at PSNC, at the Excellence through Social Enterprise event on 27 November 2015.
The day celebrated the achievements of the not-for-profit Priory Community Pharmacy in Dudley, West Midlands.
The pharmacy was initially funded by the Young Pharmacist Group (YPG), in which Buxton was instrumental, boosted by a Local Pharmaceutical Services (LPS) contract and continues to be advised by a steering group.
Buxton said: “I think the really interesting bit is the current engagement in that formalised approach because lots of GP practices have patient groups who will sit down with the practice managers and receptionist and the GPs and talk about what they can do differently.
“These guys are, in effect, replicating that and there’s an interesting question as to why more pharmacies haven’t taken a similar approach.
“It’s almost peculiar when you think about it that we haven’t adopted that kind of approach in many of our pharmacies.”
Cllr Margaret Aston, of the Castle and Priory ward of Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, described estate residents as “disillusioned and angry” following the closure of healthcare services within easy reach.
Those residents still sit on the steering group that advises the social enterprise pharmacy that also benefits from a LPS contract.
“What makes this pharmacy a bit different is the funding arrangement and the fact that the funding is clearly supporting the staff,” said Buxton.
“But they have got a lower prescription volume compared to the majority of pharmacies which has probably given them a bit more time to provide services.”
The Priory’s services, which include Medicines Use Reviews (MURs), sexual health services and smoking, alcohol and drug resources, are commissioned via the LPS contract.
“The beauty of this situation is the ability to have all these services commissioned, in this case via the LPS contract,” said Buxton.
But he was quick to point out the Priory may not be unique in how it operates.
“The social enterprise aspect is unusual, the way they are engaging with the community in a formal way and, having heard about the group that meets, is fairly unusual,” he said.
“At the heart of the idea was innovation in community pharmacy and this is one of many pharmacies that is creating innovation.
“This is a different approach but it is good to see any kind of innovation because that will drive the profession forward.”
Buxton was a member of the YPG national steering group who won the contract to set up the not-for-profit pharmacy.
“I guess my final reflection is we need more pharmacies to shout about what they are doing because we tend to be quite quiet and not share the good news,” he concluded.