APPG drops recommendation for pharmacies to host GPs

Kevin Barron: We hope to discuss our recommendations with the new pharmacy minister
Kevin Barron: We hope to discuss our recommendations with the new pharmacy minister

The all-party pharmacy group (APPG) has dropped its suggestion of placing GPs in pharmacies from its recommendations for the sector.

In the APPG’s report from its first evidence session, held in February, the parliamentary group recommended that "the government investigate the feasibility of providing GP services in community pharmacy premises, [in] particular those belonging to large multiples".

However, this recommendation did not make the group's final list of seven recommendations, published yesterday (April 26).

More than two thirds of C+D readers said last month that hosting GPs in pharmacies “could confuse patients and favour the large multiples”.

At the time of going to press, the APPG had not responded to C+D’s request for comment on why the recommendation had not been included.

Background to the APPG's latest recommendations

In October 2016, the APPG announced it would hold a series of evidence sessions to “investigate” and “scrutinise” the government’s cut to pharmacy funding in England.

The final session – in which the group was expected to discuss “key points” with pharmacy minister David Mowat – was cancelled following Theresa May’s announcement of a general election, the APPG said.

In its final summary report of the six evidence sessions, the APPG said the funding cuts "have dented confidence in the sector, and raised questions about the government’s commitment to developing community pharmacy services".

Push to become prescribers

The APPG used its report to suggest that "prescribing rights could be a condition of professional practice”.

All pharmacists should be “supported...to become a prescriber by 2022”, it said, and "eventually, access to an independent prescriber could be built into the community pharmacy contract".

Don't say "clinical pharmacist"

The APPG recognised the success of NHS England's practice pharmacist pilots, but said that “references to practice pharmacists as ‘clinical pharmacists’ should be discouraged”.

“All pharmacists, whether in secondary care, community pharmacy or elsewhere, are clinically trained and the use of this descriptor risks creating inaccurate and unhelpful distinctions.”

NHS “must respond” to Murray review

The group urged NHS England to respond to the Murray review into pharmacy services, and said the commissioner's lack of response so far was “unhelpful”.

“NHS England must set out its strategy for implementing the review’s recommendations by autumn 2017,” the APPG stressed

"Chaotic" minor ailments schemes

The group reiterated its recommendation for a “consistent” minor ailments scheme “available throughout England” to “end the chaotic and inefficient postcode lottery of services”.

Patients are likely to be “confused” by the “67 different minor ailments schemes [currently] in commission”, the group said.

“The group understands that these services are popular and cost-effective... However, services are being decommissioned,” it added.

It is “not confident" that the government’s ambitions to encourage every clinical commissioning group in England to adopt locally commissioned minor ailments schemes by April 2018 will be met.

Labour MP and APPG chair Kevin Barron said: "We hope these recommendations will be given due consideration by the DH and hope the group will have the opportunity to discuss them with the minister in the new parliament.”

What else did the APPG recommend?

1) To help policy makers better understand the sector, “the Department of Health and NHS England should commission a study of the services which regular community pharmacy users benefit from, aside from dispensing medicines”.

"These may be NHS services like medicines use reviews, or informal services such as deliveries or advice for non-English speakers."

2) Greater working between primary and secondary care should be enabled by “providing pharmacists with full read-write access to patient records”. This was a measure that “all those who gave evidence” agreed on, the group stressed.

3) Community pharmacy “needs to be a key element of sustainability transformation plans”, the group said. Pharmacists should “reach out and offer their services and expertise” to help integrate the sector into wider healthcare.

Read the final report in full here

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