Pharmacists have backed NHS England's plans for a national diabetes prevention programme, but said its success depends on the sector's involvement.
The programme, to be co-designed by NHS England, Public Health England (PHE) and charity Diabetes UK, was announced in NHS England's Forward View Into Action document last month (December 23). It would make England the first country to have a national evidence-based service of this type, and would be linked to the NHS Health Checks scheme "where appropriate", the commissioning body said.
The free programme, to be implemented from 2016, was "proven to work" and would help "tens of thousands" of people at risk of diabetes to eat better, exercise more and "make smart health choices", NHS England said.
The organisation told C+D yesterday (January 6) that it could not confirm what role, if any, pharmacists would play in delivering the programme.
Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) president Ash Soni told C+D the sector "had to be involved" because pharmacies were the logical place to deliver a prevention programme to "relatively healthy" people. Mr Soni hoped NHS England would look at pharmacy's track record delivering NHS Health Checks as evidence that the sector was capable of delivering this type of preventative service.
Prevention rather than cure
Contractor Sid Dajani said he “absolutely” believed the programme was a good idea because the NHS's focus on treatment rather than prevention had left it “creaking at the hinges”.
He hoped pharmacists would be given the opportunity to become involved with the programme “as long as there was investment and funding”. If commissioners chose not to involve the sector then they were "very short-sighted", he told C+D.
Ravi Sharma, a primary care pharmacist at healthcare provider DMC Healthcare who has worked on pre-diabetes interventions in general practice, said he had “no doubt” that pharmacists should be able to offer the prevention programme to patients.
In its document, NHS England invited areas who had made “the greatest strides” in developing diabetes programmes to email them at [email protected] by the end of January for the opportunity to become a partner in developing the programme. The commissioning body would publish its approach by March and implement its plan from 2016, it said.
A National Prevention Board, chaired by PHE and bringing together the NHS, local government and other stakeholders, would oversee delivery of the programme, NHS England added.