Today NHS England announced £4.5bn will be invested over five years from 2020 in general practice under the umbrella of the NHS Long Term Plan.
In response to this, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has welcomed the announcement but have also expressed some reservations especially around workforce planning.
Chair of the RPS English Pharmacy Board Sandra Gidley said:
“Today’s news provides huge opportunities for pharmacists and is a real recognition of the value that we bring to patients and other healthcare professionals. It is a significant step forward to embedding pharmacists’ clinical skills and medicines expertise across all areas of primary care and a clear indication of the direction of travel for the profession within the NHS.
“Primary Care Networks (PCNs) are the framework within which the profession will progress towards greater integration with the multidisciplinary team. This, in turn, will streamline patient pathways, drive up standards of care and better support colleagues in other professions around medicines use.
“Using PCNs to ensure the plan’s aim that every GP surgery and care home has access to a pharmacist will improve patient outcomes, reduce avoidable hospital admissions and over-medication through medicine reviews and ensure value for money for the NHS.
“Patient safety is of paramount concern to every pharmacist. Widening opportunities will enable pharmacists to make sure medicines are prescribed and used in the way that delivers the most benefit for patients. This is exactly what RPS has long campaigned for in its work around GP pharmacists and care homes.
“PCNs will enable pharmacists providing services for their populations to play an active role in delivering healthcare. General practice will be at the centre of PCNs, but the plan makes clear pharmacists do not need to be employed directly by the practice. This opens doors to new ways of providing care that involve pharmacists across the NHS, including community and hospital colleagues. It’s vital that all pharmacists have the opportunity to get involved with their local PCN.
“What is urgently needed is workforce strategy to ensure pharmacists from every sector feel well equipped to deliver high-quality healthcare. Planning for this needs to account for capacity and capability, whilst maintaining the quality of current provision. It’s critical that there are sufficient education and training opportunities to develop the skills needed to face the challenges of the future.
“The NHS is under severe pressure and we need to look at the most effective ways to deliver services. The innovative plan outlined today points the way forward for all sectors of the pharmacy profession. We look forward to working with NHS England and other Royal Colleges and pharmacy organisations to make these opportunities happen for patients and the profession.”