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Community pharmacists mentioned once in NHS five-year update

NHS England has specifically name-checked community pharmacists just once in a 75-page update on its five-year strategy.

For comparison, the commissioner’s Next Steps On the NHS Five Year Forward View document – published this morning (March 31) – contains 10 references to “clinical pharmacists” employed in GP surgeries.

In the document, NHS England said it expects GP surgeries to work together in primary care networks, which would “involve working more closely” with community pharmacists “to make fuller use of [their] contribution”.

It also referenced its own role in overseeing pharmacy, GP and dental contracts, as well as pledging to “work with vendors to seamlessly route electronic prescriptions from NHS 111 and out-of-hours GPs to pharmacies via the electronic prescription service”.  

Under the section on how NHS England plans to “get best value out of medicines and pharmacy”, the commissioner cites the co-funding of "clinical pharmacists" embedded in general practice to “support GP prescribing and optimise medicines usage”.

It also cites plans announced earlier this week (March 28) by NHS Clinical Commissioners, which has identified areas of prescribing it argues are of “low clinical value” and should be removed from prescriptions to “drive important savings”.

Increasing the number of practice pharmacists

The commissioner provided more details on its pledge to increase the number of pharmacists working in GP surgeries, from the current figure of 491 to over 1,300 by March 2019.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said the report also sets out where progress has not been as quick, “with rising pressure on A&E and acute wards, partly caused by delayed transfers of care”.

In the document, NHS England added that as the demands on the NHS are higher than when the original Five Year Forward View was published in 2014, now is an “appropriate moment to take stock of what has worked, and what hasn’t”.

In 2014, NHS England told C+D its Five Year Forward View contained everything about its primary care strategy, despite only mentioning community pharmacy four times.

What else does the five-year update say?

On GPs:

  • NHS England is on track to deliver 3,250 GP recruits over the next two years
  • GP funding will rise by £2.4 billion by 2020-21
  • There are plans to roll out evening and weekend GP appointments, to 50% of the public by March 2018 and 100% by March 2019

On emergency care:

  • Every hospital must have "comprehensive front-door clinical streaming" by October, so that A&E departments are free to care for the sickest patients. £100m will be invested in this
  • The £1bn provided by the chancellor in the March budget for investment in adult social care must be used in part to reduce delayed transfers of care

On mental health:

  • NHS England will “substantially” increase investment to enable 60,000 more people to access psychological, or ‘talking’, therapies for common mental health conditions "over the coming year".
  • 24-hour mental health liaison teams will be placed in A&E departments and 1,500 therapists will be placed in primary care

On illness prevention:

  • NHS England will ensure NHS premises offer “appropriate” food and drink options. Public Health England (PHE) will publish specific targets in 2017-18 to reduce the sugar contents of nine food categories
  • By 2018-19, PHE will work with local authorities to offer an NHS health check to 2.8 million more people
  • PHE will expand childhood flu vaccinations to include children in school year four, from the upcoming flu season onwards.

Read the full document here

What do you make of the Five Year Forward Update?

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