Sigma Pharmaceuticals is funding a three-year PhD scholarship aimed at developing “a transformative vision” for community pharmacy in England in 2025.

The research project, which is being run by the school of pharmacy at Bath University, will gather opinions from relevant stakeholders, including patients, pharmacists, other health professionals, businesses and commissioners. There will also be a review of recent developments in community pharmacy and an examination of case studies of existing innovative pharmacy businesses.

Dr Bharat Shah, managing director of Sigma, said: “Our involvement in this timely project resonates well with the general feelings and anxiety experienced throughout the pharmaceutical industry.

“It is my personal ambition to see the culmination of three years of solid, evidence-based research that will present an irrefutable case to our policy makers, who seem at liberty to take decisions without consultation with the professionals. I am also hopeful that the findings will bolster the independent pharmacy sector and add a measure of security for the future.”

Dr Matthew Jones, a lecturer in pharmacy practice at the university and one of the project supervisors, added: “Through this work, we aim to identify areas where government policy and stakeholder views align with existing samples of innovative and successful community pharmacy business. For example, such areas of consensus might include the provision of minor ailments services, management of chronic conditions, or a diversification of business models. These can then be used to develop a vision for the future of sector.”

The recipient of the scholarship, Ms Evina Paloumpi, said: “It has long been recognised that community pharmacy is a highly valued but underutilised resource. At times of financial austerity, uncertainty and growing population demands, pharmacy has a lot to offer. NHS plans for integrating care are continuously developing and community pharmacy must ensure it is actively involved. My research aims to facilitate responses to current challenges and identify some realistic next steps for the future.”

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