Pharmacy leaders have launched a pre-election "manifesto" for community pharmacy to encourage MPs to put the sector "at the heart" of changes to the healthcare system.
The document – penned by PSNC, Pharmacy Voice and the Independent Pharmacy Federation – asks politicians to sign up to five pledges (see below) as care shifts away from urgent settings and into communities. These include making it easier to commission pharmacy services and helping pharmacists access patient records.
The groups launched the manifesto in parliament today (December 3), and Pharmacy Voice chief executive Rob Darracott said the pharmacy bodies would ensure it was available locally to help community pharmacists talk to prospective MPs in their area before the general election in May.
Speaking to C+D before the launch, Mr Darracott told C+D the five pledges would also "drive the engagement" the pharmacy bodies had with politicians between now and the election.
"Whoever is in charge post-election, you just want people to know a little bit more about pharmacy issues," he told C+D on Monday (December 1).
As well as the five pledges, the document sets out practical steps MPs can take to support an expanding role for pharmacy. These "action points" include backing the commissioning of national services or, when that is not possible, ensuring there are national templates that local commissioners can use.
MPs should also encourage health and wellbeing boards to co-ordinate local commissioners to ensure they "make the most" of community pharmacy, as well as supporting information sharing between GPs and pharmacists, the manifesto says.
Local engagement 'more powerful'
The document would ensure a consistent message from pharmacy bodies, but delivering these messages through individual community pharmacies would be "more powerful", Mr Darracott said.
Therefore, the pharmacy bodies would ensure the manifesto was available in a "convenient" form for pharmacists to access across the country, he said.
Last week, primary care expert Dr Charles Alessi said pharmacists needed to start "organising themselves" around the "most powerful" health figures in their local area ahead of the election.
5 pharmacy pledges for MPs
1. We will encourage patients to think ‘pharmacy first', and we will use pharmacy to help relieve pressure on GPs and emergency departments
2. We will improve patient choice and healthcare by making it easier to commission pharmacy services and backing more national services
3. We will help improve the public's health, recognising the accessibility and support community pharmacy can provide
4. We will enable patients, especially those with long-term conditions, to get more from their medicines through better use of community pharmacy
5. We will help pharmacies to get access to the records, information and support they need to provide more effective and safer care to patients
Source: A manifesto for community pharmacy