CCA: Pharmacist prescribing services must be commissioned ‘immediately’
The NHS should “immediately” commission services that would allow qualified pharmacist prescribers to use their skills, the Company Chemists’ Association has said.
In a new prospectus for community pharmacy published today (February 8), the CCA calls for “support and investment” from policymakers and makes a number of recommendations it says will help pharmacies support initiatives around urgent care, prevention, cardiovascular disease and reducing hospital readmissions.
As well as the urgent commissioning of pharmacist prescribing services, the CCA’s recommendations include: “modernised” funding mechanisms; a more “agile” commissioning process that would allow pharmacies to deliver new services “without unnecessary delay”; updating regulatory frameworks to ensure pharmacists can “deliver as much direct patient care as possible”; and allowing pharmacies to make and receive patient referrals “across the NHS”.
They CCA also called on the Government and NHS England to launch a funded Pharmacy First service that would “shift at least 30.5 million urgent and same-day appointments a year from GP practices”.
The organisation claimed that community pharmacies could free up over 42 million GP appointments each year, as well as reducing hospital readmissions by 65,000 and ensuring 10 million more routine vaccinations are delivered.
It also said that boosting pharmacy cardiovascular screening services would help screen an additional five million people each year and likely identify 200,000 cases of previously undiagnosed hypertension.
Laying down the gauntlet to officials, the CCA said failure to follow through on its recommendations would be proof that the Government is “making a conscious decision to wind down the sector”.
CCA chief Malcolm Harrison said: “The future of community pharmacy has the potential to be incredibly bright. Pharmacies can help immediately improve access to GPs.
“However, we are at a fork in the road. Policymakers cannot escape the fact that the current business model for community pharmacy is broken, and that the pharmacy network is no longer economically viable.
“If the Government wants to deliver a tangible difference to the healthcare of the nation, they will take forward recommendations outlined in this prospectus. If they are not serious, the Government will be making a conscious decision to wind down the sector."
National Pharmacy Association chief executive Mark Lyonette said: “This is a positive prospectus, which aligns to our own can-do approach, provided pharmacy services are fully funded.
“Much more NHS investment is needed to make progress possible and to bring significant benefits to patients.
“In time, we would wish to push the boundaries of community pharmacy practice still further, so that the sector’s offer becomes ever more compelling and truly transformative.
“Independents and multiples have a shared interest in developing a clinical future, and a shared challenge in terms of current underfunding and workforce pressures.”
PSNC chief Janet Morrison echoed these remarks, saying: “Whilst undoubtedly many people in the sector, Government and NHS England see the potential for community pharmacy as part of the solution to NHS challenges, community pharmacies must have sustainable investment in place first.
“The sector is on its knees and the consequences of the current funding situation, and the damage of increasing business costs, means a serious risk of collapse.
“This is why we have partnered with CCA and others on a #SaveOurPharmacies campaign to raise awareness and build support for an urgent financial injection to secure the future of community pharmacies.”