It is “too early” to predict how plans by the Welsh Assembly to introduce compulsory pharmaceutical needs assessments (PNAs) will affect new pharmacy applications, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) for Wales has said.
If the Welsh government passes its proposed bill – published on June 8 – health boards will be required to use PNAs to judge whether pharmacy applications meet a need for pharmaceutical services in their areas.
RPS Wales told C+D last week that it could not speculate on how the introduction of PNAs would affect the number of successful applications because the details of the assessments still needed to be “defined and regulated by the Welsh government”.
PNAs have been used in England since 2012, and RPS Welsh pharmacy board chair Mair Davies (pictured) said importing them into Wales would “enable pharmacies to better fulfil the needs of their local communities [and] hopefully smooth out health inequalities”.
Under the current system in Wales, a health board can approve a pharmacy application if it is shown to deliver a “service” that targets a previously unmet need. The existing definition of service excludes advanced and enhanced pharmaceutical services.
Ms Davies said it was important for PNAs to have a “patient-centred approach” and that the definition of ‘pharmaceutical services’ was “broader than just the supply of drugs and appliances”.
Community Pharmacy Wales (CPW) agreed PNAs should take account of the need for pharmacy services beyond dispensing. The assessments should also focus on local demographics, alignment of pharmacy’s offering with social care and the “identification of NHS services that could be offered by community pharmacy to increase uptake”, CPW said.
A “degree of flexibility” was needed so that health boards could accommodate “exceptional circumstances” such as disease outbreaks, it stressed.
CPW chief executive Russell Goodway told C+D the government was “keen” for pharmacy services such as flu vaccinations, smoking cessation and common ailments to contribute towards the delivery of its health policies. “We see the introduction of PNAs as one part of that overall picture,” he added.
Mayberry Pharmacy owner Paul Mayberry told C+D that the introduction of PNAs would allow health boards to grant contracts for new pharmacy services. “If new services come, pharmacy will need to deliver them or a competitor will,” he added.