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Hancock: Pharmacies showed ‘how much more they can do’ during COVID-19

Mr Hancock outlined the government’s intention to “burst bureaucracy” to support collaboration
Mr Hancock outlined the government’s intention to “burst bureaucracy” to support collaboration

The health secretary has praised community pharmacies for showing “how much more” they can contribute to the health service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Matt Hancock said that throughout the pandemic, “pharmacies provided open access support and care that is deeply embedded in the communities they serve” when delivering his vision on the future of healthcare at the Royal College of Physicians today (July 30).

Speaking about the seven lessons that can be learned from COVID-19, Mr Hancock highlighted the need for “better, less fragmented decision making”.

He said that there are “decades-old” barriers between different “primary care, community care, pharmacy [and] acute care”.

But he stressed that these “don’t work now”, due to the pandemic and living in a time where many people have “long-term, complex conditions”.

Instead, working collaboratively is “how people work when they really need results”, Mr Hancock said, adding that when many secondary care appointments were cancelled during the pandemic, primary care clinicians stepped in to support patients.

Pharmacies also offered support to patients in the community during that time, Mr Hancock continued. Pharmacies have shown “how much more they can do” and “this is the spirit that I want us to channel as we move out of the pandemic”, he added.

The health secretary also outlined the government’s intention to “burst bureaucracy” to support healthcare collaboration, and invited health and social care workers to contribute ideas on how to achieve that.

NHS People Plan

It comes as the NHS today published its People Plan, in which it sets out its intention for how the health service should grow and support its workforce.

“Respecting the staff at all levels and supporting them is… at the heart of the People Plan and I sincerely hope that will help with retention,” Mr Hancock said.

On the issue of pay, he said that while the government achieved “a three-year Agenda for Change deal” for those who are directly employed by the NHS, it is “harder” to oversee pay in other sectors, such as social care or community pharmacy.

“Pharmacies are very much part of the NHS but they have a different model of employment,” he said.

However, the government has “taken an overall view of supporting our people to do the best job that they possibly can”, he added.

Commenting on the publication of the NHS People Plan, Professor Claire Anderson, chair of the English Pharmacy Board at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said that “COVID-19 has highlighted the real need for pharmacy to be integrated as part of the NHS family, so it’s vital that all pharmacists and staff delivering NHS services can access the right support wherever they might work”.

What do you make or Mr Hancock's remarks?

sunil maini, Community pharmacist

so just pay us for what we have done then.simple

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Right Mr Hancock - the all-new, optimistic me is saying to you (not that there's a chance you'll read this) - put your money where your mouth is, fund us PROPERLY so that the shackles come off and let us show you what we can REALLY do cuz you ain't seen nuffin yet if you give us (them really, because I'm not in this game much longer) the chance.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Right, so NOW we are in the NHS. That translates as there are cuts to come of which we will be expected to take our share as a full member.

Richard MacLeavy, Dispenser Manager/ Dispensing Assistant

Yes we are in the NHS for the cuts, but out for the death in service award. 

Z Rafiq, Community pharmacist

No f2f, maybe the beginning of the end for uk based gp practice as we know it. The future increasingly looks like gp practices being run by independent pharmacists and nurses. When a patient needs to be seen by a doctor they will be referred to hospital to see a specialist doctor. Gp's should be fighting to get patients back for f2f appointments ( post Covid) or they will go the way community pharmacists are going.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

I think you mean 'manned' rather than 'run'. GPs have a very strong representative body unlike us which will not allow the GPs to go the way we are going. The GPs will be sitting on their laurels as they are now while everyone else does the work around them.

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

Praise doesn't pay the bills for companies or individuals. If GPs don't do F2F anymore, does that mean the public should not expect to see a pharmacist on the premises in the future as well?

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Probably the exact opposite. It'll be our role to mop up all the people not seen by GPs so we are now triage as well.

Pear Tree, Community pharmacist

He has also announced the end of F2F appointment at gp surgeries for good. Apparently your doctor doesn't actually need to examine you at all to diagnose a disease now. I wonder what he has in store for pharmacy to push for "efficiency".

C A, Community pharmacist

“Pharmacies are very much part of the NHS but they have a worse model of employment, where they don't get an NHS pension” he said.

Fixed that for you Matt

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

In normal times times this grinning idiot would have been sacked long ago.

Farhat Ahmed, Locum pharmacist

Watch this space, he is going to ask to carry on doing all that work, that we did fantasticaly during Covid, as normal practice for the pre Covid payments

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Yes, this does kind of smack of 'Why are you doing things now that you could have been doing before??' doesn't it?

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