The pharmacy minister said she is ‘alert to the financial pressures facing community pharmacy’ in an address to the sector last Thursday (20 June).
Seema Kennedy called for the upcoming pharmacy funding contract to further integrate community pharmacy with the wider healthcare system at the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) conference in Manchester.
She said: ‘I am alert to the financial pressures facing community pharmacy.
‘I am committed to working with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) to deliver a fair settlement for NHS services – one which will enable us to deliver our longer term ambition of fully-integrated primary, medical and community services.’
The contract should reward pharmacies that are ‘committed to delivering a wider range of health services and better quality’, she added.
Greater ‘public confidence’
The pharmacy minister said she wanted to see community pharmacy ‘fully integrated’ into primary care networks (PCNs) – but that greater public confidence in the sector was needed for this to be successful.
She told delegates: ‘We want to see public confidence grow in using community pharmacy services, with other parts of the NHS signposting people to them.
‘This confidence is critical to the success of the extended role for community pharmacy and we’re committed to supporting its development.’
‘Could do more’
Community pharmacists could do ‘far more’ and they should be supported to ‘work to the top of their clinical abilities’, Ms Kennedy told delegates.
She said: ‘I’ve seen and heard the calls from the sector that you feel that there is more that community pharmacy could do to support patients with a wide range of health issues.
‘I’m pleased to say that this is a view shared by Government.’
The minister also acknowledged health secretary Matt Hancock’s ‘recognition and appreciation’ of the ‘vital’ role community pharmacy provides.
However, Ms Kennedy said contractors must demonstrate the ‘value for money’ and benefit to patients of extending their services, although she did not expand on how they could do this.
The Pharmacy Integration Fund programme and the pilots announced as part of the GP contract will continue to explore the role of community pharmacy in PCNs, she added.
‘We have tested your patience’
Ms Kennedy thanked community pharmacists for their contributions to the Department of Health and Social Care's (DHSC) stockpiling and Brexit contingency planning and for advising and reassuring the public about access to medicines during these ‘uncertain times’.
She said: ‘I want to thank community pharmacy teams and contractors throughout the country for their ongoing and unwavering support in helping us prepare for Brexit – we know that we have tested your patience.’