London's commissioners want to build on the success of a record-breaking flu campaign by using pharmacy in a "bigger way", C+D has learned.
NHS England's director for London Anne Rainsberry said this year's flu scheme, which had resulted in more than 100,000 vaccinations delivered in the city's pharmacies by the end of November, had been a "great success". She said it should lead to an expanded role for the sector at a policy event on improving health in London yesterday (December 9).
Sarah Sturrock, head of the health and adult services team for London's councils, said the city's local authorities were "absolutely taking [pharmacy] seriously". "[Councils] are very aware that one of the responsibilities of health and wellbeing boards is to think about what pharmacy can do as part of an integrated set of services," Ms Sturrock told C+D.
“Directors of adult social services in some parts of London have been working very closely with their pharmacists to say ‘How do we use pharmacy more to provide joined-up services?’,” she added.
Onkar Sahota, chair of the London Assembly’s health committee, told C+D that his organisation was promoting the "important role" pharmacists could play helping patients during the early stages of a disease.
"The flu campaign was very successful and I encourage that because [pharmacies] are open longer hours and have more capacity than general practice does," he said.
Royal Pharmaceutical Society president Ash Soni, who is also chair of London's local professional network (LPN) for pharmacy, agreed that the city's councils were starting to take pharmacy more seriously. But the sector needed to highlight the importance of commissioning pharmacy services to an equal standard across the city, he stressed.
"What we need to do is give the evidence to say: this is what you should be saying to all the London boroughs and this is what you should be doing," he argued.
Last month, NHS England's head of immunisations Kenny Gibson told C+D he was "delighted" that pharmacists in London had reached an "outstanding milestone" of 100,000 vaccinations so early in the flu season. Last year, the scheme, overseen by LPC consortium Pharmacy London, delivered 67,000 vaccines in total.