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IPF chief: Act now to gain place on local health boards

Fin McCaul: All pharmacists should express an interest in joining their local health and wellbeing board

The Royal Society for Public Health's call for pharmacists to be represented on local authorities' health and wellbeing boards is an opportunity for the sector, says Independent Pharmacy Federation chair Fin McCaul

Pharmacists should take advantage of recommendations for them to be granted a place on health and wellbeing boards (HWB), the Independent Pharmacy Federation (IPF) has said.

The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) said it was “essential” that pharmacists had a greater presence on the boards - which advise local authorities on commissioning public health services - in a document published last week (February 25). Although HWBs were not required to have a pharmacy representative, there was “considerable flexibility” about who they could include, the RSPH said.

IPF chair Fin McCaul told C+D that all pharmacists should use the opportunity to write to their board and “express an interest in joining”. LPCs should also write to their HWB and suggest a suitable candidate for the post, Mr McCaul stressed.

“I think it is realistic - there are already examples of pharmacists on HWBs in London and Oxford. How about we take those examples and spread it wider?” he added.

Berkshire contractor and local councillor Graham Jones told C+D the prospect of pharmacists having a seat on HWBs was a “game-changer”.

“It will [increase] the understanding of pharmacy at the HWB table and that is important with politicians who don’t come with healthcare sector experience,” said Mr Jones, who is vice-chairman of West Berkshire council.

“We’ve just got to keep the momentum going and make sure we’re using our influence,” he added.


RSPH recommendations


The RSPH said the non-statutory positions available on HWBs should be used to “increase the representation of the pharmaceutical profession”, such as members of local professional networks. It pointed to a “growing evidence base” for the “considerable success” of pharmacies in providing services forcontraception, drug misuse and the management of chronic disease.

It also recommended that local authorities invest in expanding the healthy living pharmacy initiative and for “greater visibility” of pharmacy services within communities.

Advertisements, pharmacy outreach programmes and staff in GP surgeries and job centres should all be used to help promote the sector so that it could realise its “potential to ease the workload on primary healthcare services”, the RSPH added.


How could greater pharmacy representation on health and wellbeing boards affect local commissioning? 

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Nick Hunter, Community pharmacist

I agree with Fin and Graham - this document has got the interest of two of my four HWBs and acted as a catalyst for further dialogue about pharmacists being board members.

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