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HSCC chair: Bring community pharmacy ‘under one roof’ with rest of primary care

Steve Brine has proposed that primary care should be brought together “in a physical sense” with pharmacies co-located with other providers.

Community pharmacy should fall “under one roof” with other primary care providers like GPs, dentistry and ophthalmology, chair of the Health and Social Care Committee (HSCC) and former pharmacy minister Steve Brine told delegates at the Pharmacy Show today (October 16).


Responding to a question from the audience about how the community pharmacy sector could reach its “potential”, Mr Brine said that it may be time to “be bold enough” to see community pharmacy as “physically” part of primary care.


Read more: ‘Enormous pressures’: MPs flag pharmacy funding, workforce and drug supply woes


“Maybe we should be bold enough to think about ophthalmology, dentistry, primary care and…pharmacy coming together, literally under one roof,” he added.


While he admitted that “not everyone would agree with this view” and that it “won’t be the solution everywhere”, he said that he used to “proffer this thought” when working in the Department of Health and Social Care (DH).


“Collaboration isn’t there,” Mr Brine said, adding that the government should bring primary care “together in a physical sense, as well as in a clinical sense”.



Nationalisation of pharmacy?



He pointed to “tension” between primary care healthcare professionals such as GP surgeries actively telling patients not to go to community pharmacies for flu jabs as a signal that there is “way too much competition” between providers.


Another audience member asked whether he was proposing a nationalisation of community pharmacy, to which Mr Brine responded that he “100%” was not.


Read more: HSCC gives scathing review of DH progress on pharmacy pledges


He said that he saw primary care networks (PCNs) adopting “commercial arrangements” with the sector as a way of bringing together healthcare providers.


But he warned that it required decision-makers to be “really brave” and bemoaned the “analogue” thinking of PCNs and integrated care boards (ICBs) that tend to think “in their separate work streams”.



HSCC review



Meanwhile, Mr Brine also revealed that the government is due to publish its response to the HSCC’s expert panel review looking at progress on pharmacy policy pledges on Wednesday this week (October 18).


In July, C+D reported that the review, which looked at England only, found that the government had performed inadequately or needed improvement in meeting most of its pledges.


Mr Brine said that while the review’s conclusions didn’t “surprise” him, it “came as a shock to some ministers” who “were thinking how well everything was going”.


Read more: HSCC chair urges government to deliver extra pharmacy funding 'fast'


In June, the HSCC also announced that it had launched a new inquiry to examine the future role of pharmacy services. 


The former pharmacy minister was one of a number of MPs who spoke in support of community pharmacy during a Westminster Hall debate last month. 


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