NORTH East London Local Pharmaceutical Committee (NEL LPC) has launched a report setting out its vision for pharmacy which attempts to place the profession at the forefront of healthcare across local communities based on the high street clinic model.
With pharmacy’s funding set to be squeezed in the coming years, highlighted by an impending £170 million cut to its budget, and technology taking a firm grip on the profession, the environment pharmacists find themselves in is rapidly changing.
The report seeks to address these issues and infuse a sense of urgency within ministers, policy-makers and pharmacists themselves to make the most of pharmacy at what is a critical moment in the profession’s history.
In the report Hemant Patel, the secretary of NEL LPC, writes: “With changes in commissioning, finances, technology and robotics, and a need for new learning and consumer empowerment, we must be brave and forward-looking.
“We are presented with a unique opportunity to re-position community pharmacy and we must seize this opportunity gratefully and with commitment.”
The report, ‘Indispensable: A vision for pharmacy in the 21st century,’ lays out 12 recommendations it wants the government to help pharmacy realise, including a greater role for LPCs, which represent the interests of pharmacists, in repositioning community pharmacy as “a socially responsible profession” as described by the report.
In the report, NEL LPC calls on;
· the health and social care delivery system to be much more effectively integrated with LPCs who, alongside Clinical Commissioning Groups, can act as local facilitators and observers reporting back to NHS England and the Department for Communities and Local Government.
· the government to improve the reporting of the quality of care by involving pharmacy and allowing the profession to design and pilot patient experience measures.
· pharmacies to create a suite of online and in-pharmacy resources to assist all health professionals to reach communities where engagement has been difficult in the past.
· LPCs to trial models where care is provided to children, young people and the elderly based on the high street clinic model and reporting back to government.
· LPCs to work with Health Education England to allow pharmacy to develop and share best practice.
· LPCs and CCGs to develop collaborations with telehealth providers to cultivate pharmacy’s role in local communities.
· a new process of collaboration and stakeholder engagement to integrate pharmacy into local systems.
· LPCs to help bring an end to the fragmentation of public health, adult and mental health services.
· pharmacies to form “a multi-site laboratory” to empower patients through health education and retail opportunity and report results to policy makers.
· LPCs to work with commercial entities such as banks to boost the pharmacy infrastructure and share expertise.
· LPCs to use front-line pharmacies as sites for interactive social marketing and assist in the design and execution of new social marketing strategies.
· LPCs to create a patient engagement hub for pharmacy and the pharmaceutical industry across 320 north east London community pharmacies.
The vision may be seen by some within the pharmacy profession as ambitious but Patel has been critical of what he has perceived as independent pharmacists’ inability to adapt to change, something he has long felt needs addressing.
That has become even more critical given that the NHS needs to find £20 billion in efficiency savings by 2020-21 and the government has identified pharmacy as an area where cutbacks can be made.
Expressing his concern that independent community pharmacists have been slow to adapt to change during an interview with Pharmacy Business in 2012, Patel said: “Independents are actually dependents. They do sod all in terms of thinking and they need somebody to think for themselves because they have relinquished responsibility for forward planning.”
It is hoped this report will help address those shortcomings. The government has said it will announce details of how much it is to cut community pharmacy’s funding by in mid-October. The cuts are expected to come into force on December 1.