Sandra Gidley, Chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board, said:
“The NHS Long Term Plan is ambitious for patients and in its vision for pharmacists. It rightly recognises, as never before, that pharmacists’ skills and expertise are necessary to achieve better outcomes, improve patient safety and reduce medication errors. The RPS has long campaigned for pharmacists to be better integrated into primary care. NHS England’s renewed commitment to increase the number of pharmacists working in care homes, general practice and urgent care reflects this and is very welcome.
“We are pleased to see the increased £4.5bn investment in primary and community care and the recognition the important role pharmacists play in Primary Care Networks. As these new structures evolve, it will be vital for local health leaders to engage with patients and all the health professions to design and implement services across their localities. To date, local health leaders have not actively and routinely involved the pharmacy profession and this needs to change if patients are to get the best use from their medicines.
“With £18.2 billion spent on medicines in 2017/18 and more people living with complex and multiple conditions. Integrated Care Systems must now consider how all pharmacists, including those in hospitals, can play a key role in helping patients receive the most benefit from medicines.
“The focus on prevention in today’s plan ensuring more people stay free from ill health is much needed. We are confident that pharmacists and their teams across primary care can deliver on many of the measures set out in the plan: providing NHS Health Checks, supporting early detection and prevention of cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and increasing the numbers of physical health checks for people with mental health problems. All of these place pharmacists at the heart of improving patient care.
“The Plan acknowledges making ‘greater use of community pharmacists’ skills and opportunities to engage patients’. It is great to see a move towards a more clinically focussed approach for community pharmacists. This will require investment. Therefore, greater clarification is needed on what ‘further efficiencies and reimbursement reform’ may mean for the future of the sector. Furthermore, these ambitious plans need to be underpinned with a comprehensive strategic approach to educating and training the workforce for the future, especially by investment in foundation training and professional development for pharmacists.
“’The need for future planning to support an ageing population and healthcare professionals supporting and treating people with several long-term conditions and complex care needs is essential. We look forward to engaging with NHS England and the Government on the details of implementing the plan to make their ambitions a reality for pharmacists, their teams and most importantly the public.’’