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APPG chair: Don't look to politicians to push pharmacy's strategy

Kevin Barron: I am not passing the buck. That is the reality of the situation
Kevin Barron: I am not passing the buck. That is the reality of the situation

It is up to community pharmacy to ensure the latest think-tank recommendations for the sector are not buried by the government, the all-party pharmacy group (APPG) chair has said.

Pharmacists and their representatives need to develop a “single voice”, as greater recognition for the sector will not come from “the centre”, APPG chair and Labour MP for Rother Valley Kevin Barron has warned.

Mr Barron was speaking at the parliamentary launch of a new report into the socio-economic impact of community pharmacy – authored by independent think-tank ResPublica and commissioned by the National Pharmacy Association – yesterday (November 20).

ResPublica made three recommendations as part of its report: for pharmacy to have greater representation on local commissioning boards; for the roll-out of a “universal” pharmacy health check, and the development of a quality improvement framework mirroring that of the GP profession (see below).

However, Mr Barron stressed at the event that while he is not “passing the buck”, pharmacists should not “look to politicians” to secure greater recognition from government and commissioners.

“It is down to you as representative bodies of community pharmacy: you get together, you make the argument of what the future of pharmacy is going to look like,” he urged delegates.

“You bring the single case for community pharmacy, whether you are a multiple, or a small chain or a tiny [independent] – bring the case to government…It is not going to happen unless you start it yourself,” he added.

Mr Barron was responding to a question from C+D, who asked speakers how to ensure this latest report does not get ignored like past commissioned reports – such as the pharmacy Call to Action – and whose role it is to put the recommendations into practice.

What happened to the Murray review?

The ResPublica report comes less than a month after England’s chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge confirmed that NHS England will not be publishing a formal response to the ‘Murray’ review – an independent review into pharmacy services published last December.

Chairing yesterday’s event, James Noyes – ResPublica head of policy and author of its pharmacy report – said he “does not understand what has happened to the 'Murray' review”.

“I don’t understand – when there is cross-party consensus – that we are still locking out an existing [healthcare] network in this country,” he added. “Not just locking out that resource, but actually undermining it by reducing its funding and continuing to push it away.”

Mr Noyes suggested that this failure to fully recognise community pharmacy’s potential is “creating unnecessary tension between community pharmacists and their GP cousins”.

What did ResPublica recommend in its report?

“Parity for community pharmacy at the strategic level”

Local commissioning structures – such as clinical commissioning groups and sustainability and transformation plans – should incorporate a pharmacy representative as a mandatory part of their strategic decision-making. This representative should be chosen in consultation with the local pharmaceutical committee (LPC).

“Universal health checks”

Community pharmacy should be commissioned to provide health checks for all working-age adults every five years. The universal health check should target hypertension – with regular blood pressure checks for everyone over the age of 18 – to mitigate the risks of long-term conditions such as obesity, diabetes and dementia.

“Quality improvement programme”

Alongside the roll-out of health checks for all working-age adults, community pharmacy itself would benefit from standardising its offer and scaling up. Therefore, LPCs should establish a quality improvement programme, led by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee.

Source: Heartbeats on the High Street, ResPublica, November 2017

Read the report in full here.

Twitter coverage from the event
What do you make of Mr Barron's comments?

Peter Sainsburys, Community pharmacist

APPG basically are saying you're on your own. Can anyone explain what Keith Ridge was getting paid for? Expensive lunches in London? No wonder the industry is in the gutter.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

Hopefully this will stop these spongers from accessing the pharmacy representation gravy train as they admit they wont help

Barry Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

If these 3 strategic aims are the best that The Great and The Good can come up with then I'm afraid it just confirms WE ARE DOOMED. Same old same old. Pharmacy is clearly headed as a supply only service from If you are a young community pharmacist and you are not training to do something else such as becoming an independent prescriber then, I'm sorry to say, you are doomed too!

Mark Boland, Pharmaceutical Adviser

The vast majority of those who are trained as independent prescribers dont actually prescribe. Of the very small number who do, they are given a massively disproportionate amount of media space and so further the illusion of a clinical future for community pharmacists.

Barry Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Yes but IPs are able to command a premium workwise. Any young pharmacist now would, IMHO, be well advised to get this string to their bow. 

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

WRONG. Any young pharmacist should be looking at any and every possible way tp leave pharmacy. Stop perpetuating this lie to younng men and women that there is a rosy future.

Peter Sainsburys, Community pharmacist

Yep, he is right. Independent prescribing will only slow your demise. Also it just makes you look like someone who wanted to study medicine but couldn't get in.

Wolverine 001 , Pharmacist Director

Blood pressure checks again - is this what we are fighting for?? Let the patinets take their BP at home (which is now recommended) and add their data into a mobile app or software and filter this information to the correct people.  The NHS provided a screening programme and it was an utter shambles with no health benefits.  

Face it - pharmacy has no future unless you are selling perfume and cosmetics - what else can a pharmacist do - NOTHING.  I went to my local chemist for my sons prescription and it was appauling - no checking of allergy to penicillin - just filled a bottle with tap water placed a label on it and handed it over.  There is no future until the DOH starts to disband the GP model and allow all pharmacists to become active prescribers for chronic conditions - then doing a BP test comes to fruition and we cn add value - BUT the BMA will not let this happen.  

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

BP checks again. There was a hilarious article a few weeks ago. By the way children could take BP measurements with a machine.

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