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IPAs celebrate heroics of independent pharmacies in the Commons


IPAs celebrate heroics of independent pharmacies in the Commons

The Independent Pharmacy Awards shone the spotlight on the inspiring work of independent pharmacists and their teams across the UK on Friday.

The Awards at the House of Commons, held in association with Independent Community Pharmacist magazine, drew a stellar cast of politicians, pharmaceutical company executives and leading figures from across the pharmacy industry and NHS, including the Conservative MP Bob Neill, PSNC chief executive Janet Morrison and David Webb and Andrew Evans, the chief pharmaceutical officers for England and Wales respectively.

Six hotly contested awards were handed out, including two new ones for this year; Pharmacy Technician of the Year which went to Beata Mularska at Bedminster Pharmacy in Bristol, and Locum of the Year which was won by Catherine Haslam who is based in Derbyshire.

Community Pharmacy Liverpool beat off some tough competition to win the Best Supporting Local Representative Group for its great work for contractors over the last 12 months.

Deborah Evans won the Pharmacy Innovation Award for her work at Remedi Health where she does not provide NHS services but has rolled out a range of private services for her local community. Remedi Health was also one of the first organisations in the UK listed by the government as a private provider of Covid testing.

West Hill Pharmacy in East Riding of Yorkshire, led by superintendent pharmacist and independent prescriber Jaya Authunuri, was named Pharmacy Team of the Year.

And the Independent Pharmacist of the Year Award, a category that once again attracted some excellent entrants, was won by Carys Spencer at Pontyclun Pharmacy.

Ms Spencer manages the small village pharmacy in South Wales in the greater Cardiff area and has had an extremely busy and successful last 12 months having delivered offsite smoking cessation and flu vaccination events and provided a range of services including a record number of common ailments service consultations. Her pharmacy has been at the forefront of service delivery and were early adopters of the sore throat test and treat service as well as Attend Anywhere, an initiative allowing pharmacies to talk to patients through virtual clinics via video consultations.

In an impassioned speech, Andrew Evans told the Awards that community pharmacy in Wales had received good support from the Welsh government, including “a sweeping set of reforms to the contractual framework” for all 712 community pharmacies in the country.

Those reforms, he said, were underpinned by six principles; capacity, capability, collaboration, continuity, community and connectivity, all of which would continue to “rapidly expand the clinical role of pharmacists” and “incentivise workforce development.”

Mr Evans said the increasing investment in community pharmacy made by the Welsh government, including an additional £6m in this financial year, “encourages and rewards pharmacies to do more of the things the NHS needs."

He spoke enthusiastically about the “nationally directed clinical community pharmacy service", implemented by the Welsh government in April, which has enabled pharmacies in Wales to provide common ailments, seasonal influenza, emergency contraception and emergency medicine supply services across the country.

He also said the service will be expanded “to include provision of bridging and quick start contraception” before the end of the year while the Welsh government is “rapidly” rolling out a “nationally directed independent prescribing service” that has already seen pharmacies with independent prescribers prescribe for a range of minor illnesses not covered by the common ailment service and routine contraception.

Mr Evans went on to reveal that one in five pharmacies in Wales now provides independent prescribing services and insisted there are “plans to take us to one in three by early next year, half of all pharmacies by 2025 and every pharmacy well before the end of the decade.”

“To support that, around 100 pharmacists are accessing financial support for independent prescribing training every year, we are incentivising recruitment, training and retention of pharmacy technicians, and we are further helping community pharmacy professionals to improve their capability through access to advanced practice funding and our protected learning time pilots,” he said.

“All of this is underpinned by a comprehensive reform of funding which is increasing the investment in clinical services in absolute and relative terms by 2025, over a third of fees and allowances will be going directly into clinical service provision, more than £50m, representing a more than five-fold increase in the 10 years we will have been on the journey to transform community pharmacy provision in Wales.”

ICP editor Neil Trainis warned the Awards that in England, flat central funding could see independents already struggling with rising overheads and the cost-of-living crisis close their doors. He urged Liz Truss's government to put more funding into the community pharmacy contractual framework or risk endangering the community pharmacy network.

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