The Nation Pharmacy Association (NPA) has given a guarded welcome to the announcement today laying out increased investment in pharmacists working in general practice in England.
They have called for the ‘clinical potential’ of pharmacists to be ‘liberated’ in the community pharmacy setting.
The NPA has highlighted the fact that community pharmacy owners now face ‘dilemmas’ when deciding whether to invest in education training for pharmacists because the may just ‘migrate’ to general practice once trained.
A spokesperson from the NPA commented:
“The NPA welcomes additional investment in primary care if it means that more NHS support will be available close to where people live and work.
“Today’s announcement that more pharmacists will be recruited to support primary care networks recognises that pharmacists are an indispensable part of the primary care workforce. It is consistent with the NHS Long Term Plan commitment to make more use of pharmacists’ skills and demonstrates that the NHS has faith in the profession.
“We are fully behind the principle that multi-disciplinary working, designed locally, based around the patient and delivered in the community, is the best way to deliver transformative improvements in health care.
“So, we will work with colleagues across the sector to support our members to engage with primary care networks, which are becoming a very significant part of the NHS infrastructure.
“Today’s announcement intensifies the dilemmas faced by community pharmacy owners who invest in training and development only to see people migrate to general practice. This is a risk that must be carefully managed so that these new primary care workforce targets genuinely add to capacity.
“We want to see the clinical potential of all pharmacists liberated, especially those available without an appointment at convenient hours, in community pharmacies right across the country. Investment in pharmacy-based support can deliver benefits for many more patients, conveniently and at a lower cost than pharmacists deployed in GP surgeries.
“This new contract gives GPs a five-year settlement, and community pharmacy should have the same, so that pharmacy owners can plan ahead, with more confidence to invest in staff and services. Our sector has consistently delivered for patients and the NHS and deserves a substantial and sustainable multi-year settlement. We need this to be the basis upon which community pharmacy contract negotiations begin.
“Now that the GP contract negotiations have concluded, we are eager to see progress on the NHS plan commitment to make greater use of community pharmacy to engage patients. Ministers, government officials and NHS commissioners have all signalled that they would like to see community pharmacies playing a still greater role in urgent care and illness prevention.”