Pharmacists have declared the commissioning of national services a priority for the next government.
Whoever won the election on Thursday (May 7) should ensure there was greater stability and consistency in pharmacy services, representatives from across community pharmacy told C+D last week.
They lamented the lack of standardisation and stressed that the sector needed a “morale boost”, rather than “always fighting” for services.
Al Patel, owner of Lee Pharmacy in Lewisham, said many contractors felt “on edge” over the future of pharmacy. “I think the majority of contractors are worried about services so [we need] something in terms of guaranteed services,” he told C+D.
“In Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham, one pharmacy is doing one service and another isn’t,” Mr Patel added. “There should be standardisation.”
Numark director of marketing Mandeep Mudhar said national services funded with new money had “been on the wish list for a long time”. “Scotland has the minor ailments service and there are pockets of that activity in England, but it’s still very inconsistent,” he told C+D.
“If pharmacy has been successful [at] MURs, why not take that to the next level in terms of minor ailments or a weight management service?” Mr Mudhar argued.
Mark Stone, project pharmacist at Devon LPC, also extolled the benefits of nationally commissioned services. He feared pharmacy services with proven outcomes such as flu vaccination and minor ailments schemes were facing cuts simply due to tight local budgets.
National commissioning would put an end to these services being overlooked, Mr Stone said. But he pointed out there could also be merit in ringfencing local budgets for pharmacy.
“There’s a lot of rhetoric out there about commissioning pharmacy nationally. However, then you lose the local links, so there are risks and benefits to both methods and I don’t think that’s appreciated,” he added.
Last week, the Liberal Democrats pledged to consider commissioning more national pharmacy services.