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Transformative change is the order of the day

After months of testing with NPA members, we are getting close to finalising an ambitious new vision for community pharmacy, says the association’s new vice chair Jay Badenhorst

It is my great privilege to be the new vice chair of the NPA, which means I also chair the policy and practice committee.

In my first meeting as chair we discussed the ideal shape of the community pharmacy service for the rest of the decade and the enablers that need to be in place in order to get there. 

Historically, community pharmacy ‘visions’ have tended to take, as their starting point, what the sector is good at and work outwards from there. While it is important to articulate the sector’s USPs, our frame of reference needs to be clear about what our patients and main paymasters – the NHS and Government – want us to help them achieve. 

We know one thing that the Government wants quickly: it has pledged to cut GP waiting times and is now following through with its primary care access recovery plan. 

Meanwhile, the NHS Long Term Plan gives us a broad sense of what the NHS wants over a longer period. This includes making “greater use of community pharmacists’ skills and opportunities to engage patients” and aspiring to a future in which community pharmacy is better integrated into care pathways and the delivery of clinical services.

Public polling by the NPA shows that a large majority of people would like to see more NHS services provided at their local pharmacy. National Voices, the leading coalition of health and social care charities in England, convened a group of its members on behalf of the NPA to discuss the future role of community pharmacy.

There was a positive view of independent prescribing, plus considerable support for an expansion of diagnostic testing in pharmacies, recognising the accessibility of the setting and the frequency of visits by people with long-term conditions.

Meanwhile, Healthwatch England praises pharmacies for “being open while other services were difficult or impossible to access” [during the pandemic] and “providing an essential service for those who find it hardest to be heard”.

Foundation stone

The committee considered that medicines optimisation, prevention, same-day urgent care and long-term conditions were all in scope of our vision workstream. We were also clear that the safe supply of medicines should continue to be a foundation stone upon which other pharmacy support is built.

We are getting close to finalising our vision statement for the next 10 years. The learnings will feed into the King’s Fund and Nuffield Trust, who are collecting inspiration on behalf of Community Pharmacy England. We are confident that the large majority of NPA members – by their nature innovators – will be open to our ideas for ambitious, transformative change.  

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