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Multiples call for ‘uniform commissioning’ of pharmacy services

Malcolm Harrison: Contractors need a clear direction of travel to invest in their pharmacy
Malcolm Harrison: Contractors need a clear direction of travel to invest in their pharmacy

The body representing the UK's largest multiples has called for a uniform approach to service commissioning so pharmacy can play a greater role in the NHS.

Community pharmacy can play a greater role in the future of the NHS, but the sector needs “standardisation and uniformity” when it comes to commissioning services, Malcolm Harrison, chief executive of the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) – which represents the UK’s largest multiples and supermarket pharmacies – has said.

Speaking at Westminster Health Forum's conference last week (June 5), on primary care’s role in implementing the NHS long-term plan, Mr Harrison drew on “small-scale pilots and initiatives” to “demonstrate the potential” of community pharmacy. He mentioned the NHS 111 direct referral pilot, sore throat test and treat services, and atrial fibrillation checks.

While some pharmacy services have seen successes through regional “connection schemes”, he urged the NHS to use community pharmacists’ “operational experience and expertise” to deliver schemes “in an effective and efficient and a uniform way across the whole country”.

Give contractors confidence to invest

Contractors need “clarity, focus and a direction of travel to give them confidence to be able to invest in the future”, Mr Harrison added.

The “key issues that need addressing” include workforce development, service design and a “more agile legislative and regulatory framework” to “move things forward” from the 50-year-old Medicines Act 1968.

He called for “system-wide, long-term planning, training and development”, for the whole community pharmacy sector.

What changes would you like to see to pharmacy services commissioning?

I couldn't agree more, this ad hoc approach to services doesn't work. Most of the time the hassle of trying to provide them actually means you end up running them at a loss or a tiny profit.

Community Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

The HUGE growth in NHS administrators has facilitated this fiasco...All making up their own separate 'rules',justifying their salaries and new 'title',issuing PGD's etcetc for each health authority/trust (whatever they've reinvented themselves as) rather than a National Agreed Standard (NAS) - new acronym for the next 'meeting' plus buffet right there 'guys'...One Service,One set of rules.....Simples !!

A Long Serving Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

I work across several county borders. Each area and even each sub- district has different rules for EHC, minor ailments, needle exchange, emergency prescriptions, reordering of prescriptions, substance misuse etc.etc. This makes my life extremely complicated and confuses customers and other relief staff too. These systems need standardising across England, and preferably the whole of the UK as they are not fit for purpose as they stand. 

Joan Richardson, Locum pharmacist

I find myself in the same situation - trying to get accredited in each CCG is a nightmare as it requires several training evenings in each area and then trying to work out which set of rules is applicable each day according to where you happen to be is a further struggle.  One national commissioned set of rules for each service and life would be so much easier.


A Long Serving Pharmacist, Community pharmacist


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