The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock MP, has launched the Government’s vision to help the population live longer. Perhaps the strapline should be ‘live well for longer’, but this is nonetheless very welcomed as is the recognition of the important role of community pharmacy, in particular Healthy Living Pharmacies (HLP), in the plans.
The Mission is to ensure that people can enjoy at least five extra healthy, independent years of life by 2035, while narrowing the gap between the experience of the richest and poorest. This is supported by the long-term funding settlement for the NHS with an extra £20.5 billion a year by the end of the next five years giving the opportunity to radically change the focus of health and social care onto prevention.
The Minister acknowledges that we cannot continue to invest in the same service models of the past and we will not achieve that ambition with ‘business as usual‘. The vision sets out a greater focus, and spending, is needed on prevention, not just cure. With an ageing society and people living with multiple complex conditions it is imperative that this rebalancing happens – to keeping people well, living in the community, and out of hospital for longer. This means services which target the root causes of poor health and promote the health of the whole individual, not just treating single acute illnesses. In practice this requires greater funding for pre-primary, primary and community care – primary care includes community pharmacy.
Healthy Living Pharmacy was designed from the start to change the way a pharmacy operates from a focus on medicines supply and pharmaceutical care to that PLUS proactive health promotion, prevention and protection services. This we have demonstrated can be achieved by those who fully embrace the enablers of an engaged and developed workforce, the right environment, and engaging with, even leading on health and wellbeing in their community. Its a basic business development model – get the right people doing the right things that the market needs (and will pay for) at the right time. HLP is NOT a tick-box exercise to achieve a quality payment, it is that model.
Just as the Government cannot continue to do business as usual, neither can community pharmacy. We must unite behind this opportunity, demonstrate strong and effective leadership, ask the right questions of the right people in health and social care and public health, co-develop solutions, then, once commissioned, deliver consistently high quality and evidenced services across the sector.