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Former NPA chief: 'Inevitable' that Call to Action would be ignored

The new NHS England chief has a "very different" approach to his predecessor, says Mr Holden

Pharmacy bodies suspected that NHS England would publish a "broader strategic review" rather than a clear Call to Action consultation response, says Mike Holden


A change of management at NHS England meant it was “inevitable” the organisation would not address the responses to its Call to Action consultation on pharmacy, former NPA chief executive Mike Holden has said.

Mr Holden said that the appointment of Simon Stevens as NHS England chief executive last year meant the commissioning body began to follow a “whole new strategy”, rather than publish a detailed primary care plan that took account of the responses to its consultation as originally promised.

NHS England had never formally told pharmacy bodies that the result of the consultation across primary care providers was the Five Year Forward View, a document that only mentions pharmacy four times, Mr Holden stressed. But after Mr Stevens’ appointment they “soon became aware” that NHS England would focus on a “broader strategic review” instead, Mr Holden said on Friday (December 12).

“You have to bear in mind that Simon Stevens wasn’t in charge of NHS England when the Call to Action was initiated, so it was inevitable there were going to be some changes. [His] approach to managing NHS England was very different to his predecessor – the focus was on internal change rather than external delivery,” Mr Holden told C+D.

NHS England "disconnected" from primary care

There was a “general disconnect” between NHS England and a range of healthcare providers, said Mr Holden, and the problem was “not exclusive to pharmacy”.

Mr Holden said he had been concerned that the Call to Action consultations for pharmacy, general practice, dentistry and optometry had looked at each profession “in isolation”. “It should have been an opportunity to engage with like-minded people across different healthcare providers, and that’s the bit that was missing,” he said.

NHS England received more than 800 responses to its Call to Action consultation on pharmacy and Mr Holden said the sparse references to the sector in the Five Year Forward View were “disappointing”.

The commissioning body promised in March to publish a “strategic primary care commissioning framework” in the autumn that would take account of the responses to its Call to Action consultations. But it told C+D last month that “everything” about its primary care strategy had already been included in its Five Year Forward View.


Was the Call to Action consultation worthwhile?

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Pharmacy HLP, Manager

You Need to try an asymmetric strategy to put the goals it in front of lots of different people and organisations . Has anyone in pharmacy hierarchy understood the importance of making friends and influencing people as aposed to navel gazing .

nader Siabi, Community pharmacist

This only shows how our bodies (quite few of them) are useless in influencing. It is all about having titles (chief this chief that), pension (you and me paying for it), being at the centre of every conference (Go on holiday on yours and mine expense) and make name for themselves( what about calling then Sir, Dame, OBE).

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Nice of you to say so now you've run away(stepped down) with a nice fat pension.

Dave Downham, Manager

If you knew it was inevitable, why didn't you tell us?!? Hindsight is 20/20 and all that...

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