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New inquiry to rate government progress on pharmacy services pledges

A new “independent evaluation” will “focus” on the government’s progress on commitments made to pharmacy services, the Health and Social Care Committee (HSCC) announced last week.

The HSCC last week (April 26) announced the formation of a new “expert panel” as part of a new “independent evaluation” it is undertaking.


It said that the panel’s “focus” will be “progress by the government to meet commitments it has made on pharmacy services in England”.


Read more: London LPCs urge their 1,498 pharmacies to opt out of contraception service


Revealing the panel’s scope, it added that it will evaluate nine government commitments across five areas:


  • Community pharmacy
  • Integrated care, including patient safety
  • Hospital pharmacy
  • Education, training and the pharmacy workforce
  • Extended services


The panel will produce a report including a regulator-style “rating from ‘inadequate’ to ‘outstanding’” awarded against each specific pledge “with a final overall rating given”, it said.


The findings will be used to “support the work” of the HSCC, it added, but it remains unclear when the inquiry will launch.



NPA to join expert panel



The “core members” of the expert panel – chaired by Professor Dame Jane Dacre - are Professor Anita Charlesworth, Sir Robert Francis QC, Professor Stephen Peckham, Professor Emma Cave and Sir David Pearson.


But the HSCC has also appointed “six additional members with subject area expertise”, including National Pharmacy Association (NPA) chief executive Mark Lyonette, it said. 


Read more:  NPA chief executive Mark Lyonette to step down


Mr Lyonette said he is “delighted to be invited to join the panel”, adding that he hopes “to help the HSCC evaluate to what extent the UK government is delivering on making the best use of the third largest healthcare profession”.



“Holding the government to account”



“This is all about holding the government to account on its commitments,” an NPA spokesperson said.


Mr Lyonette’s appointment to the panel “means that there will be expert insight into the commitments relating to community pharmacy”, they added. 


Read more: PSNC hits back as DH ploughs ahead with reduced PQS amid 'imposed' changes


The other five “specialists” appointed to the panel are:

  • Nadra Ahmed CBE, chairman of the National Care Association (NCA)
  • Dr Rima Makarem, chair of the Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board (ICB)
  • Dr Hamde Nazar, senior lecturer in pharmacy practice at Newcastle University
  • Dr Raliat Onatade, chief pharmacist and director of medicines and pharmacy at NHS Northeast London
  • Ellen Williams, director of regional pharmacy training at Pharmacy Workforce Development South (PWDS)


Pharmacy’s role “has never been more important”


Panel chair Professor Dacre said that the “role of pharmacy in delivering care whether in hospital, the community or primary care has never been more important”. 

“The government has made a number of commitments aimed at improving pharmacy services and we’ll be looking at the progress to achieve these targets,” she added.

Read more: PSNC ‘still awaiting news’ on Pharmacy First service amid October launch hints


She said that the panel will consider “pledges covering frontline services as well as the education and training of the workforce” and will hear from “stakeholders from across the industry including the pharmacy workforce and NHS and independent providers of pharmacy services”.


The panel will also invite written submissions from the public and stakeholders to inform its evaluation, according to the NPA. 


Read more: Brine: We ‘must not let’ independent prescribers leave community pharmacy


HSCC chair and former pharmacy minster Steve Brine said in March that the committee was planning to launch a policy inquiry focussing specifically on community pharmacy “later in 2023”.


At the time, he said that responses received to its current inquiry into prevention show a “strong interest” in community pharmacy.

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