The PDA's proposals to contract specialist pharmacists to take full responsibility for patient care could create more opportunities for the sector but could also cause the pharmacy network to "fall apart", pharmacists have said.
The plans outlined last week in the PDA's road map for England, which called on the government to create separate roles for "patient-facing" and "clinic" pharmacists, had "a lot of potential" for both pharmacists and patients, according to pharmacist Clive Hodgson, manager at Sunningdale Pharmacy in Stockton-on-Tees, Cleveland.
However, contractor Graham Phillips warned that separating the clinical and supply roles of pharmacists could cause the pharmacy network to "fall apart".
"We need integration between dispensing and the added value of medicines optimisation. As soon as you start to disintermediate the process, you've lost your public health network," said Mr Phillips, owner of Manor Pharmacy Group (Wheathampstead) Ltd in Hertfordshire.
Integration between dispensing and the added value of medicines optimisation was needed, said contractor Graham Phillips
More on visions for pharmacy's future
Earlier in the month, Celesio UK managing director Cormac Tobin called the Scottish government's plans for patients to register with a named pharmacist "the wrong move", and Mr Hodgson predicted the multiples will oppose the PDA's plans for a similar initiative in England.
"I doubt [they] will be too enthusiastic, as this would mean them losing revenue, power and control to individually contracted pharmacists. They have a lot of influence and will act in their own interests," he posted on C+D's website.
Another pharmacist commenting on the website agreed the multiples might oppose the plans at first, but predicted their opinion could change over time.
"They'll soon take up the idea when they realise the category M clawbacks will not stop, hence they will require more streamlines of income," the anonymous pharmacist said.
The PDA's road map called for clinic pharmacists to hold an individual contract with the NHS to provide specialist pharmaceutical services, particularly focusing on patients with long-term conditions. Under the plan, patients would register with a clinic pharmacist – who would be an independent prescriber – to be seen on an appointment basis.
Community pharmacist and independent prescriber Gerry Diamond said this would offer him a chance to use his prescriber training, and contractor Aniruddh Patel told C+D he would pay for prescriber accreditation if the PDA's plans were put into practice.
"If it's contracted and it's a clear role, I think it's a brilliant idea – and it's totally within our capabilities. We don't want people to perceive us as glorified shopkeepers,"said Mr Patel, owner of Savages Pharmacy in Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex.
Patient-facing pharmacists could provide a service to walk-in patients, the PDA said on Friday (October 11), dispensing prescriptions and treating minor ailments under a nationally commissioned scheme.
The PDA released its road map just over a year after it called on the Scottish government to adopt a similar model that also involved separating medicines supply from clinical care in the pharmacy contract.
How could the specialist roles affect the pharmacy network?