The Government’s proposed pharmacy integration fund has already been cut from £60m to £42m for its first two years (2016/17 and 2017/18), according to plans published last week by NHS England.
Pharmacy Voice responded to the news by demanding that community pharmacy leaders are at the heart of further work to determine how the fund is best used.
Rob Darracott, chief executive of Pharmacy Voice, commented: “While the lack of detail about how these proposals will translate into tangible opportunities for community pharmacies is disappointing, perhaps this time it is the sector that is perfectly placed to fill in the gaps. We have repeatedly offered to work in partnership with NHS England to establish a collaborative approach to sustainable change that would benefit patients, the NHS and community pharmacy teams. The offer has not yet been taken up.”
There is no shortage of ideas and live examples of how the sector can fulfil its true potential for patients and the public, he continued. “In our experience, pharmacy is usually on the outside, which significantly hampers our ability to effectively demonstrate our capability. We want to work with the NHS, local governments and those leading the transformation of the system at NHS England to scale up what we already know is working, and incorporating the areas recommended by the Clinical Services Review for investment in the community pharmacy service for patients.”
“We want the NHS to put aside the rhetoric, to stop talking about the ‘potential’ of community pharmacy, and put its energy, commitment and – ultimately – its money where its mouth is. If, as the minister and NHS England claim, the integration fund represents the opening of a door to discussions that are long overdue, such as commissioning of long-term conditions management, urgent care and public health services by the community pharmacy network, then we are ready to expand on the initial thinking in the Community Pharmacy Forward View to transform these half-formed proposals into a watershed moment for the sector.”