All clinical commissioning groups (CCG) will need to employ a pharmacist if they want to take on more responsibility for local health services, GPs have said.
NHS England is considering whether to delegate full responsibility for enhanced services to CCGs, and GPs told C+D it would be “essential” to involve pharmacists in commissioning decisions if CCGs were granted these extra powers.
Amit Bhargava, a GP and chief clinical officer for Crawley CCG, said a community pharmacist was already part of his CCG and brought “value” to its discussions. “We want to improve the health of the population and pharmacists are key to this,” he told C+D on Thursday (December 4).
Ken Aswani, a GP and clinical lead of primary care organisation NHS Alliance, said some CCGs were better equipped to take over the commissioning of enhanced pharmacy services than others. CCGs would benefit from national commissioning guidelines to ensure a “reasonable standard” across the country, he said.
“You’ll get the weak players and the strong players, but you don’t want a high percentage to not be able to do the job because that affects local pharmacy services. There is a real role [for] an off-the-shelf way of commissioning minor ailments [schemes],” Dr Aswani said.
Croydon GP Dharini Shanmugabavan agreed there “has to be” a pharmacist on every CCG to improve awareness of the sector. “Pharmacy is an area we don’t understand that well, because [it] has always been privatised in a way,” he told C+D.
NHS England is considering a range of options for commissioning primary care services in the future, including fully delegating responsibility for enhanced services to CCGs. The commissioning body told C+D in October that it would know in January how many CCGs wanted this option, and that it could become a reality from 2016.
Last month, some LPC leaders warned that giving CCGs more commissioning powers would "fragment" pharmacy services by increasing variation between different areas. But others welcomed the proposals and argued that CCGs were keen to commission more services from the sector.