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.