The Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) has set out the changes it wants to see in community pharmacy.
Speaking at a Westminster Health Forum event last week (5 June) on implementing the NHS long-term plan for primary care in England, CCA chief Malcolm Harrison welcomed the plan’s recognition of what community pharmacy can offer.
In the document, NHS England has ‘formalised the role that community pharmacy has been performing for many years’, for example in the detection of long-term conditions such as cardiovascular disease, he said.
Here’s what the CCA believes needs to change to make the most of community pharmacy.
1. Community pharmacy needs a single national framework
Mr Harrison highlighted the variation in roles and expectations for community pharmacists across the country. He called for ‘standardisation and uniformity’ in the commissioning of services to avoid confusion when pharmacists begin working more closely with GP practices and other colleagues in primary care networks (PCNs).
Mr Harrison said: ‘So that CCA members can have the confidence to invest in these changes set out in the NHS long-term plan, we need to see the provision of both a clear vision or a roadmap for the community pharmacy sector, and the development of care solutions to a single national service specification that can then be adopted at a more local level via the PCNs.’
As well as providing clarity for community pharmacists themselves, he added that it would help patients understand what to expect from pharmacy services.
2. The rules and regulations are due an update
Pharmacy laws are based on decades-old legislation and might be worth a rethink, Mr Harrison suggested.
He said: ‘We need a more agile legislative and regulatory framework within which community pharmacy professionals can practice, whilst upholding patient safety.
‘The current model on which community pharmacy is based and the laws surrounding it are based on the Medicines Act 1968. We need to move things forward from 50 years ago.’
3. Secure the pharmacy workforce
Mr Harrison called for ‘system-wide long-term planning for the training, development and retention within pharmacy roles’.
He welcomed the launch of the NHS Interim People Plan last week (4 June) and its focus on support and training for pharmacists across sectors. Other pharmacy bodies also responded warmly to the plan, with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) calling for funding to be attached to the promise of training.
4. Fund pharmacy sustainably
Community pharmacy needs to move away from its reliance on supply and towards the delivery of services, Mr Harrison said. However, achieving this will require changes to the way the sector is funded.
He said: ‘We need a mixed model of funding that is sustainable for pharmacies so that they can contract in a different way.’
The existing pharmacy integration fund should be used to develop the clinical skills of community pharmacists and ‘support the development of integrated services that support patients with quality prevention interventions and urgent care solutions’, he added.
Mr Harrison continued: ‘Community pharmacy is an integral and progressive part of the NHS. With the right supporting systems and a sustainable funding framework, we are perfectly placed to meet the evolving needs of patients and to alleviate the pressure on the wider health and care system.’
Formalising the future
Negotiations for the upcoming community pharmacy contract began between the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England in April.
PSNC said it is ‘always pleased to receive proposals’ and ‘considers all points raised by [stakeholders] very carefully’.