By Royal Pharmaceutical Society England board chair Sandra Gidley

As the dust settles from the publication of the long-awaited NHS Long-Term Plan, many across the profession will be looking to what it means in practice. There are certainly opportunities for pharmacy, but it would be fair to say some in the community sector will be wondering what happens next.

Pharmacists certainly featured more than ever before and it was great to see NHS England recognise how central their skills will be to meeting its ambitions around patient safety and delivering better value from the billions of pounds spent on medicines each year.

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By Gareth Jones, NPA head of corporate affairs

“I’ve just seen this NHS plan... and we’re not in it,” is how one NPA member reacted when the 10-year plan was published.

While it is true there are few references to community pharmacy specifically, there is a lot about community-based services, medicines, workforce, urgent care and prevention, which are all areas inherently in our sector’s sphere of interest.

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By Alexander Humphries*

Recently one morning, I found myself at the pharmacy counter helping a customer. She made some throwaway comment about everything getting more difficult because of Brexit. The next thing I know, the customer two back in the queue pipes up that “it was about time too”.

I watched her blood pressure rise as she began a polemic against every “foreign influence” on the country and society. This was really uncomfortable to watch because the poor lady I was serving really wasn’t launching into a political speech, rather simply making idle conversation.

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By Richard Thomas, editor, Pharmacy Magazine

There is much in the NHS Long Term Plan that is encouraging. Plenty of mentions of pharmacists, albeit mostly of the ‘clinical’ kind – of which more later.

However, community pharmacists are emphasised as key players in urgent care and prevention and there is the usual commitment to make greater use of their skills and opportunities to engage patients.

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By NPA head of communications Stephen Fishwick

When you’re ‘pitching’ community pharmacy solutions to commissioners, policymakers, patients, politicians and others, pharmacy’s ‘access story’ is often a good place to start. Where else in the health service can you simply walk in off the street and get access to professional healthcare advice in a matter of minutes, usually without an appointment?

There’s also a great story to tell on prevention, public health and ‘making every contact count’. In fact, there is so much we can say – and do say – about the benefits of pharmacy that our messages can become rather cluttered if we’re not careful.

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