The much awaited NHS Long Term Plan is here. The plan sets out a new model of care for the 21st century:
- how the NHS will move to a new service model in which patients get more options, better support, and properly joined-up care at the right time in the optimal care setting
- new, funded action the NHS will take to strengthen its contribution to prevention and health inequalities
- how current workforce pressures will be tackled, and staff supported
- how the 3.4% five year NHS funding settlement will help put the NHS back onto a sustainable financial path
- the next steps in implementing the Long Term Plan.
So where does Pharmacy fit into the plan? Well, for those who like to count such things, it seems quite a lot with over 20 mentions and more than 10 references to community pharmacy’s role, particularly within Primary Care Networks. We need to be looking at potential solutions, not focussing on negative interpretations and semantics.
Key areas that may impact on pharmacy include:
- make greater use of community pharmacy’s accessibility and skills
- establishment of Primary Care Networks with £4.5 billion investment
- out-of-hospital and urgent care
- supporting self care and self management
- promoting good health
- prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and respiratory conditions
- greater involvement in provision of Health Checks and their outcomes
- support to improve mental health and wellbeing
- involvement in social prescribing
- expansion of digital healthcare and use of technology including automation
- reducing waste and exploring alternative reimbursement and supply arrangements for medicines
Inevitably there are both risks and opportunities for community pharmacy in there so the next steps are critical for a successful future.
PSNC must now go to NHS England and DHSC and ask the right questions of the right people to understand how community pharmacy can be part of the implementation of the plan. Ask not what the NHS can do for community pharmacy, but what pharmacy can do for the NHS!
A new, fairer and sustainable contractual framework must be developed quickly and support for its implementation and consistent quality delivery against the NHS needs to help address population health and wellbeing inequalities. A framework which is equitable and drives the right behaviours and quality outcomes.
Integrated Care Systems (ICS) are due to be in place everywhere by April 2021. As they are to be central to delivery of the plan, there is a major influencing and leadership role for Local Pharmaceutical Committees (LPCs) by working with ICSs and CCGs to ensure that community pharmacy is firmly embedded and active within the Primary Care Networks.
It is now ten years since the Healthy Living Pharmacy initiative was developed in anticipation that community pharmacy could play a bigger and better role in improving the health and wellbeing of the communities we serve and support. It was predictable then that a supply-based contract could not be sustainable in the long term and a shift to a quality-led, service-based contract including pharmaceutical care, supply and prevention would come. Hence the then, and continued focus on organisational development. Let us not miss this opportunity to make it happen both for pharmacy and our local populations.