Having seriously and very deeply considered the fate of community pharmacy and realising the urgent need to reinvigorate the sector, I have a few thoughts on pharmacy’s future, which I submitted as part of the NHS’s ‘Developing the long-term plan’ consultation – which closed at the end of last month.
Now is the time to rethink and re-engage with commissioners and the government after the High Court funding cuts case paralysed all development in community pharmacy – just like Brexit has paralysed our country. The prospects of a national contract are not good, as the NHS prepares contracts for new integrated care providers, where populations of 30-50,000 people would be locally managed within a single coordinated system.
I believe pharmacy – and a high street clinic model – could offer a radical solution for the NHS, instead of the ‘tinkering’ approach we have seen in the past.
Essentially, I am saying:
- We need to stop coming up with ideas to improve pharmacy services bit by bit. We must think big and transform community pharmacy into high street clinics.
- A new vision should be created and community pharmacists should be consulted to ensure that they have a stake in the new integrated care systems.
With over 10,000 GP and over 35,000 nurse vacancies and more GP practice closures and mergers on the horizon, there is a clinical under-capacity in the NHS. Community pharmacy can help relieve this.
One solution is an integrated, clinical hub-and-spoke system, where reduced GP surgeries form the hubs and community pharmacies form the spokes in communities. All repeat prescribing for stable long-term conditions can be transferred to independent prescribers in community pharmacy, where teams can also check for potential adverse conditions and monitor patients’ ongoing health.
This will make local healthcare systems more accessible, cost-effective and patient-friendly.
Read a summary of Mr Patel’s submission to the NHS consultation here.
Hemant Patel is secretary of North-east London local pharmaceutical committee, and a member of both the National Pharmacy Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English pharmacy boards. Read a summary of Mr Patel’s submission to the NHS consultation.
Mr Patel will be hosting three sessions at the Pharmacy Show in Birmingham this coming Sunday (October 7). C+D is also exhibiting at the show – come meet the team at stand PC27.