We are pleased to see the Community Pharmacy Forward View (CPFV) finally published; a long awaited response to the NHS Five Year Forward View and the community pharmacy reform proposals. Having a vision that brings together different organisation’s perspectives of where community pharmacy could add more value should not be underestimated and it is good to see collaborative leadership from Pharmacy Voice and PSNC with RPS’s support.
As with any vision, and pharmacy has had its fair share over the years, success is all about implementation and execution; this is where we have frequently failed. What we need now is strong engagement with the sector to explain why this is the right path to follow, how we get there and what the benefits will be. We must take all those working in community pharmacy with us.
Equally, we must ensure that we do the same for those we need to work with – politicians, DH, NHS England, Public Health England, local commissioners (CCGs and LAs), other pharmacy sectors and other healthcare professionals. The messages for each stakeholder group will need to be in their language and address their needs, not just ours. This will be the difference between success and failure. Pharmacy does not and cannot operate in isolation – we have to be valued part of the system and a relevant and compelling part of the solution in solving the problems the NHS faces.
If all the above is done well at national. local (LPCs) and contractor level then we have a chance to make this work, but it will require clear and consistent focus, excellent influencing and effective negotiating to make it happen. Above all, strong collaborative leadership with everyone pointing in the same direction and towards a common goal.
The world of health and wellbeing commissioning is not going to spoon-feed us, we have to go to them with solutions to address their needs. There are numerous challenges and hence opportunities with an increasing and ageing population, widening health inequalities and unhealthy lifestyles counter-balanced with financial, quality and capacity gaps.
Yes there are those who don’t or won’t see a role for community pharmacy in this and that will be both within and outside the profession. The CPFV is a good start but, as ever, the devil will be in the detail, the plan, excellence in implementation and execution and in the communication. We must deal with historical intra and inter-professional baggage and prejudices, poor delivery, egos and, critically, be about hearts, minds, evidence and patients.
This could be our last chance to get this right – become a vibrant contributor to the health system and patient care or keep trying to do what we have always mainly done, manage a threatened medicines supply service. Let’s be ambitious, lets be brave and convert this vision into reality.