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NHS England: Commissioning strategy already published

National Association of Primary Care co-chair Charles Alessi says references to pharmacy in the document were "notable by their absence" 

"Everything" about NHS England’s primary care strategy is in its Five Year Forward View document, published last month, it says. Primary care leader Charles Alessi says references to pharmacy are "notable by their absence"


NHS England's long-awaited primary care strategy has already been published in a document that only mentions pharmacy four times, C+D has learned.

The commissioning body promised in March to publish its "strategic primary care commissioning framework" in the autumn. This would take account of the responses to its Call to Action consultations for pharmacy, general practice, dentistry and optometry that took place this year, it said at the time.

But NHS England told C+D on Tuesday (November 25) that "everything" about its primary care strategy had already been included in its Five Year Forward View document, published last month, which does not mention any of the consultations and only refers specifically to pharmacy four times. The document calls for pharmacists to form large-scale primary care practices with GPs and other healthcare professionals, and for the NHS to make "far greater use of pharmacies".

Pharmacy and primary care representatives said the Five Year Forward View did not contain enough information about pharmacy's role within the strategy.

Co-operative Pharmacy superintendent Janice Perkins said no one in the sector had been aware that the document was the output of the Call to Action when it was published.

"If that's the case, we need to explain that to pharmacists. Our expectation was that NHS England would pull together the responses, and we were expecting a primary care strategy to be published," Ms Perkins said during an Actavis-sponsored C+D webinar on the strategy on Wednesday (November 26).

National Association of Primary Care co-chair Charles Alessi said the references to pharmacy in the document were "notable by their absence".

"All it does is paint a picture of what a future health and social care system may look like, but the detail is completely missing. [That's] either because they forgot to include it, or because it's up to us to propose how it should be included," he said in the webinar.

Lack of detail an 'opportunity'

The sparse references to pharmacy was an opportunity for the sector to "put in the missing detail" and deliver its potential to improve healthcare, Dr Alessi added.

Royal Pharmaceutical Society president Ash Soni agreed it was a "short document" that did not contain the level of detail the sector wanted. "I think it's targeted at politicians and the treasury," he said.

In April, NHS England said it had been "overwhelmed" by more than 800 responses to the Call to Action consultation for community pharmacy. But a C+D poll earlier this month revealed that 70 per cent of readers felt the commissioning body had not listened to their responses.

Does the Five Year Forward View take account of pharmacy's Call to Action consultation responses? 

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Graham Phillips, Superintendent Pharmacist

Jeremy Hunt is ignorant of pharmacy. All he can see are the doctors and the nurses. Every now and then he utters a few platitudes about pharmacy but in truth its just meaningless political rhetoric. Is Jeremy Hunt’s ignorance his fault or ours? Well in my view we (the profession) have to accept our share of the blame. We haven’t done anything like enough to raise the profile of the profession. I think pharmacy could be pivotal in delivering the 5YFV but only if we campaign. We MUST engage with politicians - love 'em or hate 'em they make the decisions. We need to convince them that Pharmacy can Save the NHS..

Tariq Iqbal, Accuracy checking technician

You can tell when MPs and people who do not know what pharmacy can do and this is clear in its 5 year plans. The government has seen failing hospitals and NHS Trists but still fail to utilise correctly the pharmacy profession. Clearly an agenda of their own. Maybe pharmacists should not vote for these MPs who are against pharmacy and instead stand up as independent candidates by forming a new party Called Fighting for the NHS & Pharmacy.

How many MPs actually have spent time in a pharmacy maybe work as a volunteer for 1 day that would be good use of public money which these public servants get paid but sit at the House of Commons and being OUT OF TOUCH and this applies to all 3 parties Conservatives, Labour & Lib Dems.

Each party have totally forgotten the roots of the NHS and think that they know it all. come and work for a day I will offer some MPs placements. MPs get paid so much but cannot have the decency to do some hard work that working class and other people in the UK do day in day out without the luxury holidays that MPs have during the year. Parents have to pay high tarvel prices and schools now cannot authorise holidays for children. WHAT A SHAMBLE? AND NO PARTY WILL IMPROVE BE IT ANY OF THE 3 MENTIONED EARLIER

Brian Austen, Senior Management

The 'Five Year Forward View' is nothing more than a marketing strategy! It is a set of ideas and the thing about ideas is you need to put them into action otherwise they are worthless. The NHS is still struggling with the top-down re-organisation started by the former SoS for Health. To implement what is advertised in the FYFW there will need to be further radical change in primary, secondary and social care. It would be foolhardy to experiment further before the General Election and depending on the result of that their may be further policy changes. Even before that the NHS has to deal with deficits that are in danger of swallowing up the extra spending pledged, even before it has been made available. The 'Call to Action' was a consultation to placate healthcare organisations before policy followed whatever was planned before it took place. Unfortunately pharmacy is not important to politicians, DoH or NHS England because it is not as important to patients as other areas of healthcare. GP, community nursing, A&E and elective care hospital services are what patients care about the most. If we were talking about an NHS card game, pharmacy would be playing a 'busted flush'. Its a shame really because pharmacy could do a lot more for health, community and social care, if it was given a fair chance by commissioners.

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