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Pharmacists should prepare for post-election change, says primary care expert

Pharmacists will become more involved with commissioning after the election, says GP Charles Alessi

Organise yourselves around the most powerful local healthcare figures ahead of May, urges National Association of Primary Care co-chair Charles Alessi


Pharmacists need to start "organising themselves" around the "most powerful" health figures in their local area ahead of next May's general election, a primary care expert has said.

"Post-election austerity" was the most "fertile" ground for change in the healthcare system, and pharmacists should ensure they start building relationships locally to take advantage of that, according to National Association of Primary Care co-chair Charles Alessi.

Dr Alessi, also a GP, predicted that the NHS's financial crisis would break down barriers between GPs and pharmacists and encourage healthcare professionals to become better connected. "Now is the time for change," he said at a C+D webinar, sponsored by Actavis, last week (November 26).

"Post election, there will be the need to make big changes, and the time now [should be spent] getting the relationships going. Think laterally around who is most powerful in the area, and get closer to them," he said.

Dr Alessi also predicted that relationships between commissioners and providers would change to include more people in decisions about spending on healthcare, which could benefit pharmacy.

"Everybody is going to have to make decisions based on who is best suited. If pharmacy is the place where people have best access, surely it's where most of the uncomplicated, non-communicable diseases are being managed," he said.

Royal Pharmaceutical Society President Ash Soni agreed that pharmacists would have to get closer to other professionals to work as part of a team, but warned that the sector must keep its "professional autonomy".

"There's a benefit and an advantage that we provide in terms of access that is over and above working in GP practices, it's got to be autonomy of independent knowledge that works with GP, but working in a way that is collaborative," he told the webinar.

In October, the Independent Pharmacy Federation told C+D that pharmacy leaders would campaign to "raise the profile" of the sector to politicians ahead of the general election.

How can pharmacists prepare for the general election?

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Brian Austen, Senior Management

GPs do want to work with pharmacists. They want the pharmacists employed working for them and integrating pharmaceutical services with medical and community nursing services. Their preferred position is to own a pharmacy located inside their premises, with their pharmacy employees and general practice employees working together as a multidisciplinary team. Additionally they would like to see a range of outpatient services provided by consultants, providing an 'outreach' service from hospitals; 'secondary to primary care shift'. This creates a community health hub. If a dentist can be added all the better. This provides excellent facilities and services for patients and a nice consequence of this business plan is a more profitable business. Lloyds tried to do something similar in 'health villages' in the past but with them as the controlling company. It failed miserably!
It works very well for GPs in large partnerships in large, modern, purpose built GP premises. This is the future for healthcare. It will bring about the demise of sole partner and small GP practices, especially where they are struggling to attract a successor and have unfit for purpose premises, that will not attract investment from NHS England. Many Independent pharmacists will have to make some very difficult decisions about the way they will ensure their business is sustainable and profitable in the future.
The one thing that could get in the way of this scenario is if hospitals decide to bring every service mentioned in to hospital premises alongside A&E. If I was a sole partner GP or independent community pharmacist, I would be taking to the people at their local hospital.

Chris Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

''...Think laterally around who is most powerful in the area, and get closer to them,"

In other words be prepared to kiss a lot of ass and make sure its the right one. Thanks, great advice Dr Alessi.

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