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Hancock shows GPs how expanding pharmacy services could 'lighten load'

Mr Hancock singled out the national pharmacy flu service and asthma reviews

Health secretary Matt Hancock has used a speech to GPs to illustrate how expanding community pharmacy services can “lighten” their “load”.

Mr Hancock pointed to the national pharmacy flu vaccination service in England and asthma reviews in pharmacies to show how the government is “helping other primary care workers to expand their services, so we can make the best use of their skills”, in his speech to the National Association of Primary Care conference yesterday (October 18).

“We have seen our flu vaccination programme reach more than a million people over the past three years, with people able to get vaccinated quickly and close to home,” he told GPs at the conference.

“Last year, an estimated 12,500 high-risk asthma patients were identified and referred for review by pharmacists,” he continued.

“I want to see more of these kinds of partnerships to prevent ill health in pre-primary care.”

Mr Hancock argued that increasing the numbers of GPs “isn’t, on it’s own, enough to meet the growing health challenges we face as a nation”.

“GPs are part of a team, and through them manage the health of our country,” he said. “So, GPs working in, and leading, mixed teams of nurses, pharmacists, physios and other healthcare staff is the way forward.”

“Challenges around multi-morbidities”

The health secretary also used his speech to set out the “challenges around multi-morbidities”.

“The focus of the system has to move from treating single acute illnesses to care for multiple chronic conditions and promoting the health of the whole individual.

“Obesity, diabetes, mental illness, dementia – these are the pressures of the future. And the only way to address them is by public health and personal health, pre-primary and primary care together,” he added.

He argued that the government needs “to look at places where people have got this shift of resources right, and managed to rebalance the system between primary and community care on the one hand and secondary care on the other”.

He gave the example of the 'Buurtzorg' model in the Netherlands, where “nurses work in small self-governing teams to provide a range of care and support”.

Earlier this month, Mr Hancock exclusively told C+D that he wants community pharmacy to move towards the “French model”. Read C+D’s analysis of this pharmacy model.

What do you make of Mr Hancock's comments?

Paul Dishman, Pharmaceutical Adviser

I'd like to see the colour of Mr Hancock's money

Leon The Apothecary, Student

One could easily interpret his words as simply being appealing. Until affirmative action is taken, they have very little weighting in my opinion.

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

Mr Hancock - I am sure GPs would be delighted for pharmacists to lighten the load. It's just they don't want to lose the money that goes with it.... or the power.... or the influence.... or the "poor GP, they're so overworked" rubbish

Joanne Julien, Retail Management

Pharmacists should be able to alleviate the pressure the NHS is under, however, try buying anything from ours without ten questions and then to be told, we can't sell it you, little jobs worths or too much red tape and hoops, tired of living in a nanny state

Leon The Apothecary, Student

What Joanne would be suggesting here is a massive step back in terms of accountability for the medicines we sell in a Pharmacy.

An extreme example of this would be Joanne brought some Cerumol ear drops to treat some ear wax. Because she didn't have questions, she didn't realise they contained peanut oil, and she was allergic to them, the reaction proves to be fatal.

According to Joanne, the Pharmacy would have no liability to ensure the product was safe to be used. 

Respectfully, does that seem safe? Does that sound progressive? Does being inconvenienced by a non-sale, or an alternative product as the case usually is, outweigh one's safety and wellbeing?

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

Joanne - Trust me when I say we get just as frustrated but, sadly, we don't make the rules. Regulations say we can't sell chloramphenicol for anything other bacterial conjuntivitis yet we know it would be suitable to treat other conditions. You are quite correct when you speak of the nanny state but when people do stupid things, like commit suicide by overdoing on paracetamol, there is a knee-jerk reaction from HMG

Charles Whitfield Bott, Pharmacist Director

What would you like to be able to treat with chloramphenicol that can not at the moment?


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