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.