By patient representative Graham Prestwich

Four themes stood out for me at the symposium, which was organised by NHS England/ NHS Improvement.

Firstly, the language used, ‘deprescribing’, is not the best and not always helpful. Everyone I spoke to recognised this and, as a wide variety of people are involved, the most appropriate words may vary.

Clearer descriptions will and must emerge as this work progresses. What was agreed is that this is about improving health and wellbeing, about making sure that people for whom medicines are no longer beneficial are no longer prescribed them. Good quality care invariably costs less for everyone involved, and most of all for patients themselves. The healthier we feel, the better – and the less likely we are to require health services.

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By Richard Thomas, Editor, Pharmacy Magazine

The contract talks between PSNC and the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England remain shrouded in secrecy but some strong clues are beginning to emerge.

Pharmacy’s negotiators are pushing hard for a multi-year settlement like the one the GPs have, while urgent care is a key priority for the NHS as underlined in the Long Term Plan. A national minor illness referral service is very much on the cards.

The Scottish and Welsh Governments recognised some time ago the benefits that such schemes offer patients and the NHS, so it is good to see England catching up at last. However, where Scotland and Wales diverge from England is over medicines optimisation in long-term conditions.

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By Simon Dukes, chief executive PSNC

You may well be thinking that primary care networks (PCNs) is just another primary care shake-up. In some ways it is – but there are some important ways in which this one is different for us.

First, this change is going to reroute a lot of primary care funding directly through networks of GP practices while specifying seven key services that these networks must deliver.

Some of these services are due for roll-out from April 2020 and they include structured medication reviews (by clinical pharmacists), enhancing health in care homes, anticipatory and personalised care, supporting early cancer diagnosis, CVD diagnosis and prevention, and local action to tackle inequalities.

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My mobile phone network knows that unless it keeps me happy I can easily (well, quite easily) move to another network. The same cannot be said about PMR systems.

It is very difficult to move to another supplier – particularly when the big companies provide pretty much the same offering in terms of price, service and technology. I just don’t get any sense that they view pharmacies as customers, and they seem to have little interest in the way that our businesses are changing.

Unless we can find a way to change this dynamic, the gap between what our technology can do, and what we want it to do, will grow and grow. This could potentially be crippling to pharmacy businesses in an age when customers are increasingly chasing digital by default and struggle to engage with analog pharmacy systems.

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By Richard Thomas, Editor, Pharmacy Magazine

This month’s Chief Pharmaceutical Officer’s conference had an interesting and forward-looking programme.

Exploring the role of pharmacy in the NHS Long Term Plan, there were sessions on using data to improve care quality, pharmacogenomics and wellness through social prescribing. Exactly the sort of progressive agenda that community pharmacists are forever being urged to engage with and, as such, highly relevant to our readership.

We would like to tell you more – but unfortunately we can’t.

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