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Earl Howe: London self-care scheme is a 'game changer'

Newham CCG will pay pharmacies to develop a self-management plan for 9,000 patients with long-term conditions that “stays with them for life”, as part of a CCG-wide self-management service starting next April

Pharmacy minister Earl Howe has hailed a newly commissioned self-care pharmacy service in north-east London as a "game changer" for the sector.

Earl Howe applauded North-East London (NEL) LPC for securing funding for pharmacies to develop a self-management plan for 9,000 patients with long-term conditions that "stays with them for life" at a self-care conference on Wednesday (November 12).

Under the year-long scheme, commissioned by Newham clinical commissioning group (CCG) to launch in April, GPs will refer patients to a pharmacy of their choice, where they can jointly develop a self-management plan for their condition with a pharmacist. The pharmacist will then hold three review sessions over 12 weeks to ensure the plan suits the individual.

Three quarters of the 316 pharmacies in NEL LPC had committed to the service, LPC chief executive Hemant Patel told the conference on the same day. Mr Patel could not tell C+D how much money Newham CCG had pledged for the service. 

Earl Howe said the scheme, which involves pharmacists signposting patients to local education programmes or exercise classes to support their self-management, had "the potential to improve the lives of a great many people."

"The self-care pharmacy concept could prove a game changer, and I applaud the LPC and its partners for having the vision to take this forward," he said.

Janaka Perera, integrated care workstream lead for Newham CCG, said the group had "protected" funding to pay pharmacists to work with patients with diabetes, mental illness, respiratory disease and cardiovascular disease. The CCG would evaluate the scheme and planned to expand training and increase patient numbers and funding in the future, he said.

"The training that we're currently doing is a massive piece of work. That's a demonstration of our commitment and our investment into this," he told the conference.

More CCGs to come on board

Mr Patel said he was "absolutely delighted" with Earl Howe's endorsement and hoped five neighbouring CCGs would not be "very far behind" in commissioning similar self-management schemes. "Expressions of interest are coming from multiples, [and] independents, so the overall mix of providers is representative of the community pharmacy sector," he told C+D.

NEL LPC unveiled a pilot of the project across 60 pharmacies in April, when it pledged to make local pharmacies the main port of call for patients with long-term conditions.

Would you like a similar self-management service to be commissioned in your area?

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