Hancock makes prevention his mantra – but have we been here before?

What is it about Matt Hancock and his ‘French model’ of community pharmacy?

The health secretary has mentioned it so many times – apparently sending his officials into a fact finding frenzy while contacting their counterparts across the Channel – one half expects him to send his negotiating team into battle with PSNC in striped tops and berets singing Non je ne regrette rien.

It is thought he is referring, somewhat obliquely, to pharmacies in France offering a wider range of services in the community than those in the UK (surely debatable), especially those concerned with preventing ill health. This is where it does get interesting, as Mr Hancock has made it clear that prevention will be at the centre of the NHS’s long-term plan.

As the NPA points out we’ve been here many times over the years, so it would be easy to take a cynical view, especially as it was this Government that stripped public health services out of the NHS, tossed the prevention agenda to local councils, then slashed the budget. It should also be borne in mind that the most effective preventive interventions lie largely outside the health service, in better social care, education, welfare, employment, housing and the environment – and it remains to be seen what ministers intend to do about these.

However, if Mr Hancock sees community pharmacy playing an enhanced role in keeping people well and out of hospital, and ensures this is properly implemented, structured and funded, then as far as we’re concerned it’s Vive la pharmacie révolution!

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