England's chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge wants to reassure the sector "what NHS England’s duty is”, he told C+D in an exclusive interview last week (October 21).
“As a national commissioner of community pharmacy services, I want to ensure the NHS provides safe and effective patient care,” Dr Ridge said.
“I am a person who wants to see change because of all the issues I’ve talked about – including medicines use and outcomes. Pharmacists need to be right at the centre of that,” he said.
A pharmacy integration fund, announced by NHS England (October 20) is “designed to make that happen”, he added.
Dr Ridge acknowledged that "some people have some very strong views about me at the moment", and said NHS England "recognises these are difficult and uncertain times".
The commissioner's ongoing review of services, led by King's Fund director of policy Richard Murray, is expected to be published "later in the year" and will "impact on the deployment of the integration fund", he added.
More details to come
"Full details of contractual changes [for community pharmacy are] coming,” Dr Ridge stressed, which will further clarify the government's plans. More details of the pharmacy access scheme will also be published in December, he added.
“Local and regional [NHS England] teams will be working with contractors to keep them informed, supported and prepared for the changes,” he said.