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Health think tanks tasked with pharmacy vision for England

Pharmacy News

Health think tanks tasked with pharmacy vision for England

A new vision and strategic options for community pharmacy in England will be developed by the Nuffield Trust and The King's Fund by early summer next year.

The think tanks have been commissioned by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee and will work "very closely with the community pharmacy sector throughout the project". 

The report will help underpin the future strategy for the sector and will also support negotiations between PSNC and policymakers as the current five-year Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework comes to an end, with a new deal described as "critical to the sector" due to be in place for April 2024. 

PSNC says pharmacy will contribute to both a steering group and an advisory panel, which will advise on the work. Pharmacy owners and teams, LPCs and "others in the sector" will be invited to take part in two consultation exercises, the first of which will start next month (November). PSNC will organise working groups on services, funding, digital and technology, and workforce to feed in.

The Trust and The Fund will consult experts from outside pharmacy, including senior policy leads at NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care, primary care commissioning leads in integrated care systems, Healthwatch and other consumer/patient groups, and representatives of other healthcare professionals and providers.

The development of a compelling vision and an effective strategy for community pharmacy was a key recommendation from the Pharmacy Representation Review Steering Group (RSG). It forms one of the workstreams of the Transforming Pharmacy Representation Programme (TAPR) currently being undertaken by PSNC. The organisation says it wanted to undertake the project anyway to help lay the foundations for "those crucial upcoming negotiations". 

Goals

The PSNC's goals for the final vision report are that it will:
  • Set out ambitions for community pharmacy to demonstrate to Government and commissioners its vital and potentially growing role in primary care, and how it will deliver value for money and better patient outcomes.

  • Enable the community pharmacy sector to unite behind shared goals and ambitions and start to consider how it will need to change to deliver its full potential. 

  • Develop, as far as possible, with Government and the NHS, a shared agenda and the case for a sustainably funded sector to deliver on shared goals.

"It will focus not just on recommendations for areas of priority action, but it will also pay attention to the key enablers for successful change at scale, and the obstacles and barriers that will need to be managed. As an independent report from two extremely well-respected organisations, PSNC hopes the vision will help to persuade policy-makers to think differently about community pharmacy, supporting the need for more investment in the sector," says the negotiator.

No wish list

On engaging with the sector, PSNC chief executive Janet Morrison says: We have tasked Nuffield Trust and The King’s Fund with listening very carefully to the community pharmacy sector throughout this work – we need their report to reflect your views.

"This won’t be a pharmacy wish list, but an independent, authoritative look at what we have to offer patients, but also at what we need to change ourselves. As two of the most highly regarded and influential organisations within the healthcare policy sector, when Nuffield Trust and The King’s Fund have something to say, Government and the NHS listen. We are delighted to have them on board.

PSNC sees this as a critical piece of work as we try to get the sector onto a sustainable footing. We are really looking forward to the final report and to using that to map out a better strategic way ahead, and to working hard to negotiate a better deal for the sector,” she said.

At a press briefing launching the work, Ms Morrison confirmed that NHS services would be the primary focus for the think tanks and promised multiple ways for community pharmacists and organisations to get involved. She said that there would be benefits to the sector from that outside perspective.

"It’s independent, so there's no guarantee everyone's hands will be tied by being involved, but there are multiple ways in which contractors, LPCs, the umbrella bodies, the whole array of contractor representatives, can get their voice heard and put across their case. And if it's a compelling case, no doubt, that will be picked up by Richard [Murray, chief executive, The King’s Fund] and Nigel [Edwards, chief executive, Nuffield Trust]."

A blog written by the two chief executives would be published shortly that provides some insight into their focus. "It's a refreshing read, because they're thinking about us as part of a health system, how we fit in with other strategies and policies," said Ms Morrison.

"They want to hear other ways to look at problems, because some are pretty intractable. I want the independent thinkers; it might be people who can be a bit awkward, to suggest completely different ways of looking at the world. We can think hard about how we can magnify the message about the consultation being available to make sure that people beyond business owners can input to."

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