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London LPC sends every English MP its vision for pharmacy

Hemant Patel: Government views pharmacy contract as “an expense rather than a benefit”

A local pharmaceutical committee (LPC) in London has sent every member of English parliament its "radically different" vision of community pharmacy.

The vision – which also went to members of the House of Lords – hopes to establish community pharmacists as “clinical experts on the high street”.

In a letter dated September 2, North East London LPC urges MPs to “write to the secretary of state” to ensure community pharmacy is adequately consulted in plans for the future of healthcare across the UK.

Current plans to transform primary care have been developed with GPs and nurses in mind, but are “largely ignoring community pharmacy”, the LPC says in the letter, seen by C+D.

North East London LPC secretary Hemant Patel told C+D on Monday (September 12) that the government views the community pharmacy contract as “a problem – an expense rather than a benefit”.

In response, the LPC – which represents 320 pharmacies – has created a “radically different” vision for the sector, he said, based on five ‘pillars’ that it hopes will establish community pharmacies as “high street clinics”.

Support from Alistair Burt

Mr Patel said he was “delighted” when he received a note from former pharmacy minister Alistair Burt after sharing an “outline” of the high street clinic model with him at the beginning of the year.

In a follow up letter sent in June, and also seen by C+D, Mr Burt said the proposed model was “in line with his thinking” and he had passed it on to the “relevant policy officials”.

Mr Patel is still waiting for a response from Mr Burt’s successor, David Mowat.

“We were hoping by now that the minister would have made a decision [on the model], but obviously he hasn’t and we are going to press him on that,” Mr Patel said.

“We wanted to make sure that when MPs return to parliament after the summer break, the work we have done will be at the forefront of people’s minds.”

"World’s most advanced model"

Mr Patel is “optimistic” that the government will listen to his LPC’s vision, as it is “reflective of the NHS’s five year forward view" iniative and fills the “ideas vacuum” for a sustainable future of community pharmacy.

But he said, community pharmacists also need to “accept their responsibility to provide expertise” and fill the “clinical void”, he added.

“We believe this is the world’s most advanced model for community pharmacy…and we’ve already had support from over 30 local commissioners and patients support organisations,” Mr Patel said.

He said the new model would “require changes in commissioning” to roll it out nationally, but two clinical commissioning groups – Newham and Waltham Forest –  have already commissioned the service and are waiting to move onto “the next stage”.

“We are all awaiting the minister to make decisions, but the willingness is there,” Mr Patel added.

Five pillars of the 'high street clinic' model

1) Getting the best out of medicines and nutrition

Community pharmacists can support urgent care services and take over repeat prescribing.

2) Getting the best out of life

Pharmacists trained as health coaches can help individuals improve their lifestyle.

3) Getting the best out of communities

Partnerships with community organisations and charities will increase the sector's influence.

4) Getting the best out of workforce, technology and social media

Use performance incentives and harness pharmacists’ “ability to network”.

5) Getting the best out of the healthcare system

Work with GPs, hospital trusts and mental health facilities to “deliver the right care at the right time”.

Read more about the LPC’s vision:

What role can community pharmacy play in the future of primary care?

D Edwards, Hospital pharmacist

Good on this LPC. Thank you for this. Community pharmacists are unsung and need to be seen as the major point of clinical access for the public. There arent many who see huge numbers of people at once and who have that continuity of care and holistic responsibility for members of the community. The sector must be protected and nurtured.

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