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Pharmacy groups rise to Labour challenge for greater role in preventative care

Practice Independent Pharmacy Federation compiling suggestions from pharmacy representatives, including a national minor ailments scheme and an increasing in pharmacy screening services

Pharmacy groups have called for a national minor ailments scheme and an increase in pharmacy screening services, in response to Labour's challenge for the sector to play a greater role in preventative care.

The Independent Pharmacy Federation (IPF) hosted a meeting between pharmacy representatives and shadow health secretary Andy Burnham in June, where he asked the sector to devise new models of care. The IPF said it was compiling a document of suggestions from all the attendees, which it will circulate to pharmacy groups for their feedback.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham requested suggestions for new models of care from the sector at a meeting in June

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The IPF said it had discussed the key issues with Numark, PSNC, Pharmacy Voice and Lloydspharmacy's parent company Celesio. Once the document was agreed with the other pharmacy bodies, the IPF planned to pass it to Mr Burnham before Labour's conference in September, when he is expected to set out his vision for whole person care, said IFP chief executive Claire Ward.

Pharmacy Voice and Numark said they wanted the document to highlight healthy living pharmacies as an example of how to make the most of the skills of pharmacy staff.

Celesio planned to reiterate the four suggestions it had made to Mr Burnham at the meeting already, including better use of community pharmacy to support patients with long-term conditions and an increase in the number of screening services and health checks provided in pharmacies.

It would also call for community pharmacies to be used as "health and wellbeing hubs" in deprived communities and for a national minor ailments service to be provided by pharmacies.

"That would take pressure off GP waiting times, be cheaper for the NHS and hugely more convenient for patients," a Celesio spokesperson said.

Numark said it supported Mr Burnham's vision for whole person care - which would involve the separate budgets for health and social care being combined to pay for a single service focused on preventative care - because the current health system was "silo-led and fragmented".

This meant pharmacy was not integrated into mainstream NHS planning and delivery, Numark said.

"Of particular note is the absence of linkage between the pharmacy and GP contracts. As a consequence there is little incentive to encourage collaboration," Numark said in its response to the meeting with Mr Burnham.

Pharmacy Voice chief executive Rob Darracott said he thought Mr Burnham would be interested in how pharmacy could help patients to live independently.

"If you support people's use of medicines more effectively then we're going to keep them out of secondary care and in their own homes for longer," he told C+D.

Ms Ward told C+D that the IPF intended to have a follow-up meeting to discuss the suggestions with Mr Burnham and his team in late autumn or early 2014.

Are there any other ways in which pharmacy could play a part in preventative care?

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