Pharmacists are cynical about the political reasons behind NHS England’s decision to finally respond to its Call to Action consultation on the sector.
The response, to be published in "early 2015", would take account of the “best ideas” for “new models of care” arising from last year's Call to Action consultations for community pharmacy, dentistry, and optometry, NHS England said in a document published last month (December 23).
It marked a u-turn for the commissioning body, which said in November that the commissioning framework that had resulted from the consultations had already been published in its Five Year Forward View document in October.
Readers posting on the C+D website questioned whether the decision to publish a response over a year after the consultation closed was politically motivated. Community pharmacist Kevin Western asked if the “sudden political will to be seen to be doing something” was a response to the upcoming general election in May.
“I hope it ends in actions which are funded, rather than words of encouragement. If the phrase ‘pharmacists must engage with GPs’ occurs, I will cry,” he said.
Pharmacist Gursaran Matharu said NHS England's announcement seemed like “another piece of rhetoric”.
“Unfortunately this appears to be words rather than action. I will believe it when there is actual policy underpinned with funding,” he said.
Locum pharmacist Peter Gibson labelled the response “too little, too late”. “We are in the middle of a highly politicised A&E crisis. Community pharmacy leaders need to engage with the current crisis and present solutions,” he said.
In its Forward View Into Action document last month, the commissioning body said primary care was "not just about general practice" and acknowledged that it had "heard hundreds of views about how community pharmacy, dentistry and aspects of eye healthcare could develop to support better outcomes". The document did not refer to the Call to Action consultation by name.
In December, NHS England regional director for London Anne Rainsberry told C+D that the Five Year Forward View was not intended to focus on a particular profession and had "very much" taken account of the more than 800 responses to the Call to Action consultation for pharmacy.