Areas without a local professional network (LPN) for pharmacy must be "swiftly" persuaded to set one up, pharmacy minister Earl Howe has told C+D in an exclusive interview.
Responding to the results of a C+D investigation last month that revealed a quarter of NHS England's area teams had not created a pharmacy LPN, Earl Howe said they must be encouraged to do so.
"LPNs are a really good innovation. They have enabled pharmacy and its professional voice to be much more prominent locally," he told C+D at the Conservative party conference in Birmingham on Monday (September 29).
The minister tried to sell the importance of setting up the remaining LPNs when he addressed meetings of the networks, he added.
NHS England told its area teams to set up LPNs last year with the remit of working with commissioners and providing clinical leadership. But a C+D freedom of information investigation revealed that seven of the 27 area teams – including all three of the teams in London – had not established an LPN for pharmacy by the end of July.
Visit C+D's interactive map to see what progress the LPN in your area has made: chemistanddruggist.co.uk/LPN-investigation
What are LPNs?
Last year, NHS England informed its 27 area teams that they should each set up separate local professional networks (LPNs) for pharmacy, dentistry and optometry. NHS England intended each LPN to include a chair, an administrative manager, local clinicians and other specialists, such as individuals with a public health background.
Pharmacy LPNs link up pharmacists and commissioners. They provide clinical leadership to NHS England and help implement its primary care strategy. They also collaborate with clinical commissioning groups and health and wellbeing boards to promote self-care and ensure the "robust commissioning of locally enhanced services".
Source: NHS England. LPN operating framework. June 2013