We don’t have to tell you that a community pharmacy is a vital lifeline for many people. Especially when you consider that 1.6 million people visit a community pharmacy every day in England. For many, pharmacies are more than just a place to get medicine as people also rely on them for medical advice before seeing a doctor. This has been the case since we can remember but community pharmacy needs to modernise to fit in with the NHS Long Term Plan.
Challenges And Changes In Healthcare
The NHS is pharmacies’ biggest customer and gets great value for money, however, the landscape is changing. Not only is there an increased demand for healthcare services but along with that comes additional financial challenges.
This only adds more pressure onto the NHS, in particular, GP’s and A&E. With that comes the NHS Long Term Plan which states the following: “Government wants to use community pharmacists’ clinical skills to help tackle the challenges facing the NHS.”
As the NHS continues to evolve, pharmacies will become even more important. The fact that people are getting older and considering that nearly a quarter of adults take three or four prescribed medicines, the future role of community pharmacy is already expanding.
Negotiating The Healthcare Landscape With PSNC
The role of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) is invaluable to community pharmacy. As part of the of their support services, they often send briefings to LPCs (Local Pharmaceutical Committees) and pharmacy teams.
These briefings include presentations, updates and guidance on the new NHS environment and regulations. It aims to help LPCs and pharmacies better understand key areas of PSNC’s work. Just in the last year, the PSNC briefings on the healthcare landscape covered a wide range of topics including:
- Supporting community pharmacies to engage with Primary Care Networks (PCN)
- An introduction to Primary Care Networks
- A five-year framework for GP contract reform to implement the NHS Long Term Plan
- Summary of the NHS Long Term Plan
- A summary of DHSC’s Prevention is better than cure: our vision to help you live well for longer
- Update on the Health and Care Landscape
- A summary of the Network Contract Directed Enhanced Service (DES)
Considering all the challenges, PSNC will negotiate any changes with the Government on behalf of community pharmacies. They will also continue to work closely with many other pharmacy organisations such as the NPA (National Pharmacy Association), CCA (Company Chemists’ Association) and Royal Pharmaceutical Society among others.
Here is a closer look at the PSNC Briefing 013/19: An Introduction to Primary Care Networks
Future Of Community Pharmacy
Community pharmacy already plays a vital role in providing medicines but also a wide range of other clinical services. Already they give 1 million flu vaccinations annually, offer access to emergency contraception while educating people about their medications.
It is very likely that community pharmacists will spend less time dispensing medicine as their focus will be on services which help people stay healthy. This will also relieve pressure from other NHS services like urgent care and could include preventing and treating minor illnesses. Such a shift means pharmacies will work closely with GPs and other healthcare providers within Primary Care Networks.
To accommodate all types of income groups, community pharmacies must adapt and work with the NHS and ensure the following:
- Free up additional time for the pharmacist by tapping into other team members’ skills and using technology more effectively
- Improved communication with patients through the use of digital technologies
- Keep updated, informed and educated to provide the services the NHS needs
If community pharmacies show a readiness to change and the ability to provide new services, many opportunities are bound to follow.
Community Pharmacy Integration Programme/Fund (PhIF)
In a letter from the Government in December 2015, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced the intention of introducing a Pharmacy Integration Fund (PhIF). This aims at helping to transform how pharmacists and community pharmacies will operate in the NHS. Responsibility of the fund lies with NHS England and it’s not part of any negotiations related to the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF).
The primary aim of the PhIF is to support developing clinical pharmacy practices on a broad scale within primary care settings. This would lead the way to more integrated and highly effective NHS primary care services. The PhIF is all about using community pharmacy, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to greater effect in new, integrated local healthcare models.
Training And Support With NHS Interim People Plan
The NHS has published an Interim People Plan highlighting how they will support the workforce in delivering the required care. When the NHS Long Term Plan was published earlier this year, it recognised that some changes were needed. The new interim plan now addresses the immediate actions required to take effect this year.
Key points of the NHS Interim People Plan include the following:
- Community pharmacy to have greater freedom in delivering more clinical care
- A common foundation programme for all newly registered community pharmacists
- Additional training to help pharmacy teams deliver better care for patients with minor illnesses. This also extends to helping teams educate the public about living healthier lives
- Pharmacist prescribers will be a central part of multidisciplinary teams in Primary Care Networks
- Appointing experienced pharmacists as clinical directors of pharmacy and medicines
- Improving the image and reputation of community pharmacy teams to attract a wider group of people to the future pharmacy workforce
The NHS And Pharmacy Training
According to Alastair Buxton, PSNC Director of NHS Services, “With prevention and urgent care high on the NHS Long Term Plan’s list of priorities, we are pleased to see that the Interim People Plan picks out community pharmacy as one of the sectors that will benefit from workforce development. PSNC has recently recommended to pharmacy teams that they take all opportunities to update their skills to help them meet the future needs of the NHS.”
To provide further support for the future community pharmacy, VirtualOutcomes online training covers a wide range of topics. This includes courses on obesity, smoking, diabetes, alcohol abuse, cancer screening and dental health among others. If you’d like to keep informed on all the latest news, keep reading our blog or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.