In his first spring budget as chancellor, Philip Hammond announced yesterday (March 8) that £100 million will be invested into A&E departments over the next year, to help them manage winter demand and get patients to primary care faster.
This would "for example, allow for better assessment of patients when they arrive at A&E and increase the provision of on-site GP facilities”, the chancellor explained.
PSNC chief executive Sue Sharpe said it is “incomprehensible” that the NHS is “bypassing [the] established, trusted and popular health resource” of pharmacy so it can place more GPs in hospitals.
“With the right enablers, [pharmacies] could take on the 1.1m visits to emergency departments for patients with minor ailments without delay,” she added.
A consultation in a community pharmacy costs “on average £29” instead of “£147” in A&E, and the plans “overlook the need to prevent the public from needing to attend A&E in the first place”, Ms Sharpe added.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) director for England Robbie Turner said he would like to see “further inclusion of pharmacists” in the A&E team, as the benefits of having them have "already been demonstrated".
Growing role of STPs
The pharmacy bodies welcomed the chancellor’s recognition of the “growing role of sustainability and transformation plans (STPs)” with a £325m funding pledge.
However, “government continues to under-utilise the long-term and sustainable solution that community pharmacy offers”, Pharmacy Voice pointed out.
"It is clear that community pharmacy needs to continue developing its local engagement and leadership, with local pharmaceutical committees leading the way,” it added.
Mr Turner said the RPS would write to all STP leaders to encourage greater engagement with community pharmacy.
This article was updated on March 10, 2017.