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Multiples are not gearing up for Pharmacy First, claims ICS official

NHS & health news

Multiples are not gearing up for Pharmacy First, claims ICS official

This story was originally published by Independent Community Pharmacist.

William Guy, the director of primary care for Mid and South Essex NHS Integrated Care System, has told an Essex County Council meeting that large pharmacy chains are not running their businesses in a way that will make it easy for them to provide the Pharmacy First scheme because they are “strategically heading in a different direction in terms of how they deliver services.”

Guy told a meeting of Essex County Council’s health scrutiny board last week that, apart from being beneficial to patients and other parts of the NHS, Pharmacy First will “ensure sustainability and viability of community pharmacies going forward” and help get “more money into community pharmacy” but insisted “we're seeing quite a significant shift in the way” the multiples’ “models operate,” with Pharmacy First launching in three weeks’ time.

“I think their business model meant that even if Pharmacy First came online they're kind of strategically heading in a different direction in terms of how they deliver services,” Guy was quoted as saying on Essex Live.

“I think for some of the smaller pharmacies they are keen to see what Pharmacy First looks like and what the kind of benefits of it will be. I think it's unfortunately just one of those timing issues where maybe it hasn't happened as soon as we would have liked.”

Guy said his ICS is keen to work closely with local pharmaceutical committees to help pharmacies roll out the service from January 31 but warned increasing numbers of pharmacy closures coupled with patients choosing to use online pharmacy is doing nothing to “support the Pharmacy First model.”

He said there has been a “large number” of pharmacy closures in Basildon and Brentwood, mid-Essex, southeast Essex and Thurrock in the last 18 months but insisted his ICS is determined to help existing pharmacies.

“We want to work closely with the pharmacy community to try to make those businesses sustainable and Pharmacy First is definitely a solution to that,” he said.

“Critically, I think we've got to work closely now with the providers and with the local pharmaceutical committee to make this sustainable otherwise we will unfortunately see challenges to the sustainability of community pharmacies. And they do play a critical role in terms of patient care and we need them to continue.”

Councillor Marie Goldman told the council meeting that residents had contacted her with concerns about pharmacy closures in Chelmsford, particularly Boots branches, and said there were questions over how those will impact “the Pharmacy First strategy and what mitigation measures are in place.”

A spokesperson for Mid and South Essex NHS Integrated Care Board told Independent Community Pharmacist they "have seen wide sign-up of Pharmacy First from all community pharmacies and look forward to working with them to make it successful."

Responding to Guy's remarks, the Company Chemists' Association said its members are "absolutely committed" to Pharmacy First.




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