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”.