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P3pharmacy editor gives evidence to Health Select Committee

Pharmacy News

P3pharmacy editor gives evidence to Health Select Committee

P3pharmacy editor Rob Darracott has told MPs on the Health and Social Care Committee that community pharmacy can and should play a bigger role in effective integrated care but that more needs to be done to facilitate this.

Professor Darracott joined NPA chair Andrew Lane at the House of Commons on Tuesday 6 December 2022, to offer his perspective on the current effectiveness of, and future for, integrated care systems (ICSs). Their appearance followed those of other major healthcare bodies, such as the British Medical Association, National Care Forum and Royal College of Psychiatrists.

During his evidence he emphasised the strong opportunity for community pharmacy to help consolidate a historically diverse range of health delivery systems and help improve health outcomes in the UK. However, better communication, greater understanding of what pharmacists have to offer and the right incentives would be needed for this to work.

“There’s a huge gap between organisation and system leadership. That gap needs to be recognised and filled if we want people [pharmacists] to think about how the system fits together and the role they might play.”

Professor Darracott gave examples of actual pharmacy innovations – including some introduced during the pandemic – and suggested ICSs were starting to see pharmacy as a primary way to deliver community health services, whether from a single location or from a small local network. He said: “Scratch the surface anywhere and you will find a community pharmacy doing something that makes you say ‘wow, I never knew they could do that’.”

He added that such innovations are giving members of the extended pharmacy teams concerned more opportunities to grow their skills, feel greater job satisfaction and desire to come to work resulting in lower staff turnover.

Meeting of minds

Speaking afterwards, Professor Darracott confirmed it had been a positive meeting with an apparent ‘meeting of minds’:

“As a former pharmacy minister Steve Brine MP, the Committee’s chair, clearly retains a keen interest in our sector and I believe he is convinced it can be further utilised, given the right incentives. So I was pleased to have had the opportunity to discuss a couple of areas where the Committee could suggest to ministers how to remove specific barriers to opening up community pharmacy participation at local level.”

However, Professor Darracott is realistic about what needs to be done before community pharmacy can realise the major opportunity he believes is presented by integrated care systems.

“This vision can only be realised if community pharmacy understands the perspective that commissioners at system, place and neighbourhood levels have of primary care and how it can be re-imagined to help reduce health inequalities or tackle various population’s health challenges.

“There is therefore also a role for the NHS in facilitating pharmacy engagement – for example appointing local liaison pharmacists for more effective outreach.

“In the end, it is going to come down to each ICS making a commitment to change the conversation so that everyone communicates more, rather than operating in silos.”

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