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‘Deep-rooted culture’ of excluding pharmacy, ICS leaders warn

Lead pharmacists at integrated care systems (ICSs) have said that local commissioners need to bring pharmacists “into the conversation” around primary care.

Top pharmacists within ICSs warned that pharmacists are often left out of conversations about primary care at the Pharmacy Show in Birmingham this weekend (October 15).

Speaking in a keynote ICS panel discussion, chief pharmacy officer at NHS Humber and North Yorkshire ICB Laura Angus said that “being honest”, she has attended “a lot of” ICB meetings “titled ‘primary care’” in which attendees are “not actually talking about primary care [but] about general medical practice”.

“[If] we’re talking about primary care, we need to talk about the whole thing, not just general medical practice,” she said.

“I will have that engraved on my tombstone, because I just feel really strongly about it,” she added, stressing that pharmacists must be brought “into the conversation”.

Chief pharmacist at North East London Integrated Care System (ICS) Raliat Onatade told delegates that there is a “deep-rooted culture” that must be tackled.

She said that it is important to “challenge” this and “continue to reinforce” the message so that pharmacists are “seen really as part of the team”.

She added that “what helps with that is actually having the community pharmacy colleagues in the integrated care board (ICB) meetings”.


Primary care synonymous with GPs?


Panellist Yousaf Ahmad, chief pharmacist at Frimley Health and Care ICS, also suggested that pharmacy must be included in definitions of primary care if ICSs are to work together cohesively.  

He said that when doctors “use primary care to be synonymous with GP surgeries”, he will “pull them up about it”.

“I think when you talk about system transformation…there is a need for changing the mindset and the language then becomes very important,” he added.

It comes after National Association of Primary Care (NAPC) president Ash Soni last month said that pharmacists need to “step up” to the opportunities offered to them by ICSs at the annual Avicenna conference, saying that locally commissioned services from ICSs could be a financial lifeline.

Meanwhile, also speaking at the Pharmacy Show, chair of the Health and Social Care Committee (HSCC) and former pharmacy minister Steve Brine yesterday proposed that primary care should be brought together “in a physical sense” with pharmacies co-located with other providers.

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