The government will also continue to work with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) to “develop services and referral pathways” and help achieve greater collaboration across primary care, Ms Churchill told contractors at the local pharmaceutical committee (LPC) conference in London this morning (September 25).
The five-year funding contract for pharmacy – which comes into force next week – “at long last gives continuity” to the sector, and although there is still detail to fill in, the “direction of travel is clear”, Ms Churchill said in her first public address to the sector since her appointment in August.
It outlines “an expanded role” for the sector, which “better utilises and unlocks the potential of the 11,500 pharmacy teams [in England] that are embedded within the [communities] that they serve”, she explained.
These are “exciting times” for primary care, Ms Churchill said, but she acknowledged that it is a “new way of working” that will “take time” for LPCs to get used to.
“We need to work hard to make sure that the public confidence in using community pharmacy continues to grow,” she added.
Other NHS organisations must also “signpost” patients into community pharmacies, to help reinforce the “pharmacy first” thinking, Ms Churchill explained.