Pharmacy Voice welcomes the focus on joint working to improve patient care in a new consultation from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and National Association of Primary Care (NAPC) on integration of general practice and community pharmacy.
Pharmacy Voice believes that improving communication and partnerships between community pharmacy and general practice should be a high priority for the NHS and that strong relationships between primary care professionals, and with other health and care providers, are vital to delivering high quality patient care.
Elizabeth Wade, director of policy at Pharmacy Voice, said: “This consultation shows bodies representing pharmacists and GPs starting to recognise issues that community pharmacy leaders at a local and national level have been grappling with for many years.
“We are pleased to see that the GP leadership body NAPC, along with the RPS, is supportive of positions that Pharmacy Voice has advocated for some time. In particular, the consultation document reinforces Pharmacy Voice’s position on the commissioning of minor ailments services from community pharmacy; maximising the value of existing services such as the NMS and MURs; and enabling community pharmacy professionals to access and add to patient records."
On the proposal that the contractual frameworks for community pharmacy and general practice need to be bound together in order to deliver better outcomes, she noted:
“It has been clear for a long time that improving collaboration between GP surgeries and community pharmacies is important, and that achieving better alignment of objectives and incentives is part of that. It is time to move on from asking whether these things matter and to focus in a more practical way on how better collaboration and joint working will improve patient care.
“The community pharmacy contractual framework needs to evolve along with the rest of the NHS, as it has done in previous years. Evidence suggests though that changes to contracts and funding systems do not always produce the intended consequences, not least because these are only ever one part of the picture. Building relationships and overcoming professional barriers, training and developing staff, improving information for patients and the public and developing a culture of continuous quality and value improvement are all just as important. Closer working with general practice is part of this, but community pharmacy teams also need to work with colleagues across the whole system, from public health to acute care. Pharmacy Voice’s members are considering what needs to change in all of these areas to ensure community pharmacy is contributing as effectively as possible to better patient care and health outcomes.
“As the body responsible for negotiating the core national contract, we know that the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) is already working with NHS England to explore how this can evolve to support new developments and achieve the vision they have set out for community pharmacy, while maintaining the core medicines supply function on which the NHS depends. This ongoing national dialogue is essential but we must avoid falling into the trap of seeing regulatory or structural change as the key that will unlock local integration.
“Innovative primary care leaders are already working together to do the right thing for patients, making best use of existing local commissioning arrangements and establishing new provider vehicles to enable collaboration. It is this type of practical partnership working we should all be focussed on and supporting right now.”
Pharmacy Voice will be responding to the consultation.
Notes to editors
The full consultation can be found here.
Pharmacy Voice is an association of trade bodies which brings together and speaks on behalf of community pharmacy. Pharmacy Voice is formed by the three largest community pharmacy owner associations. Together we are a stronger, unified voice for community pharmacy.
For more information please contact Stewart Laing on firstname.lastname@example.org / 020 8675 4779 / 07725 555030