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How do NHS expectations sit with the funding reality?

Pharmacy News

How do NHS expectations sit with the funding reality?

NHS England “wants us to deliver more clinical services” but policymakers’ tight grip on the purse strings is holding the sector back, delegates at the Pharmacy Show heard yesterday.

In the first session of the day, PSNC chief Janet Morrison said of NSHE: “They don’t want to give us any more money but they want to give us loads more services.”

However, “anytime there’s a crisis [Government] suddenly gets alarmed if people can’t get their vital medicines… we have to build a better understanding of the value of that dispensing relationship and that’s where to build on clinical services”.

AIMp chief executive Leyla Hannbeck said false perceptions of the sector are a key barrier. “That’s why we’re out there in the media banging the drum and raising the profile.

“Everyone is going to Treasury asking for money and we are one of the pack. If we don’t show them the value in terms of changing perceptions they currently have, [in their eyes] you’re just a retailer.”

Ms Hannbeck said pharmacy must be viewed “in terms of its own capabilities” and not simply as an adjunct service relied upon to alleviate pressures in other sectors like general practice.

There is still not a level playing field, she added, pointing out the GP surgeries receive public moneys to recruit staff while this is not available to pharmacies.

The NPA’s Andrew Lane said that while former NHSE chief Simon Stevens had been “disparaging” towards pharmacies, the present incumbent Amanda Pritchard “gets what we do,” as does England’s chief pharmacist David Webb.

Janet Morrison added: “The officials we’re dealing with, however thoughtful and open minded they are, their instructions have been set [by Treasury]. We have to build relationships higher up in Government, whether that’s in the DHSC, NHSE, Number 10 or the Treasury – and of course with opposition parties because we know the future could be very different.”

PSNC tells minister to stop recruiting GP pharmacists

Commenting on  the need for a sustainable workforce, Ms Morrison said she had personally told the new pharmacy minister Will Quince that he has “has got to stop recruiting clinical pharmacists into primary care… they can add more value keeping community pharmacies open”.

CCA policy director Nick Thayer suggested that pharmacists “will work wherever they want to go,” but added that some of those who move away from community pharmacy “find that the grass isn’t greener on the other side”.

Several speakers voiced their enthusiasm about the increasing importance of the independent prescribing agenda.

Commenting on the picture in Wales, Community Pharmacy Wales’ Judy Thomas said the growing use of independent prescribing pharmacists in community pharmacies has helped spark a “massive increase in the rest of our clinical services” such as the common ailments service: “We’ve seen a massive doubling in the number of consultation we’re doing month on month compared to this time last year.”

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