Government proposals to drive efficiency in community pharmacy through direct delivery have prompted “particular concern” from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS).

The Department of Health (DH) has revealed its intention to modernise dispensing for patients by making changes to the regulatory framework and payments system.

Fewer than 10% of adults ordered their medicines online in 2014, according to the Office of National Statistics, and there is relatively low uptake of digital ordering, click and collect and home delivery services.

In an email to RPS members, English pharmacy board chair Sandra Gidley highlighted the crucial role played by pharmacists in patient safety and care.

“I have expressed particular concern about the proposed direct delivery to patients’ own homes which is proposed as part of a drive to efficiency.

“I am ensuring the government is fully aware of the vital role of pharmacist face-to-face patient conversations,” she said.

She also assured pharmacists that the RPS, Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, National Pharmacy Association and Pharmacy Voice are looking very hard at possible funding opportunities.

“I know it is very difficult at the moment to see beyond this funding cut.

“I have real concern how this will affect staffing levels and opening hours of pharmacies which will make it harder for you to care for patients and the public,” she said.

Part of the RPS’ focus is making the case for using the DH’s suggested Pharmacy Integration Fund to increase services from pharmacists in areas such as treatment of long-term condition, public health and urgent and emergency care.

Gidley has stated all pharmacists should have equal opportunity to bid for additional funding, irrespective of whether they are owners of independent pharmacies or working for large multiples.

She added: “I am pleased to say there is absolute unity across all the pharmacy bodies to make the case for better access and enhanced care from community pharmacists.”

The RPS is making a “robust case” to the DH and will release details of their proposals on 12 February.