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PDA: NHS England refused request to phase in Pharmacy First gradually

NHS & health news

PDA: NHS England refused request to phase in Pharmacy First gradually

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association has claimed NHS England rejected its request last year to phase in Pharmacy First gradually because of concerns that pharmacists had not been properly consulted about the service or given enough time to prepare for it.

Community pharmacies across England started rolling out the scheme yesterday to the backdrop of widespread positive press coverage but the PDA said in a statement yesterday that although Pharmacy First “is a very good service which will benefit the public,” it was “introduced in a hurried fashion” and was agreed between the government and business owners, not pharmacists.

As a result, the PDA said, pharmacists on the frontline have been left in “a very difficult situation as they are required to operate the full pharmacy service as well as the new one being introduced and extensively promoted by the government.”

Insisting “the vast majority of employee pharmacists” are “in principle” supportive of Pharmacy First, the PDA warned “the hurried nature” of its introduction is “causing enormous stress to a workforce that is currently massively under-resourced due to a series of cuts in NHS pharmacy funding in England.”

Pharmacy’s union said there were clear examples of how rushed the service has been, including the protocol underpinning it which pharmacists must demonstrate they are competent to fulfil but which was only published on December 1.

The PDA said pharmacists have had limited access to training and workforce issues in many pharmacies has meant they have been expected to train in the evenings after work or at weekends. It also said NHS England gave pharmacies access to the software needed to run Pharmacy First on the morning of its launch.

“With figures of between 10 and 30 million being cited by senior NHS officials as the number of consultations being transferred from a GP to a pharmacist, this represents between one and two days of additional consultation time for the community pharmacist per week,” the PDA said.

BBC criticised for misleading headline

According to its survey of “frontline pharmacists” conducted last month, 70 per cent said no extra staffing was being provided, one per cent said they always had sufficient staff to provide services while 88 per cent voiced concerns about queues and unmanageable workload.

“Patients unable to get through to the GP at the 8am rush will now be directed in potentially large numbers to see their local community pharmacist,” the PDA said. Its survey also found that 78 per cent are worried about aggression from patients because of “unrealistic expectations based on what they may have seen or heard in the media.”

The PDA warned “a worrying level of misinformation” about the scheme could fuel that aggression. “Patients are being given the impression they will be able to walk into a pharmacy and be immediately seen, with an additional member of staff available to chaperone if required,” it said.

“One TV channel broadcasted a clip of a pharmacist looking into the ear of an adult patient, when in fact that service is limited only to children. Statements have been made suggesting all pharmacists can prescribe medicines, whereas the seven clinical pathways have very specific inclusion criteria.”

The BBC were criticised yesterday for running a story about Pharmacy First with the headline ‘Pharmacists can now prescribe for seven minor illnesses.’ Pharmacists took to social media to say they will be supplying medicines under a patient group directive, not prescribing.











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