Scotland and the £2.592bn question

There is momentum behind pharmacy in Scotland

As statements go, it is ambitious and bold. “Our vision for pharmacy is as an integral and enhanced part of a modern NHS.” It would be encouraging and a welcome surprise if this was the view of the Department of Health and Social Care or NHS England as funding talks with PSNC finally get underway on a new deal for 2019-20.

In fact, the call came from Scotland’s chief pharmaceutical officer, Rose Marie Parr, speaking at the recent Celtic pharmacy conference.

Pharmacists in England have long cast their gaze enviously towards their colleagues north of the border. A smaller population, shorter lines of communication and greater alignment between the profession and those in power are obvious advantages. However, there is a clarity and sense of direction regarding pharmacy in Scotland that is completely lacking in England.

That said, it is important to take off the rose-tinted glasses. Pharmacists in Scotland are subject to the same changing demands of professional practice as those elsewhere, with all the uncertainty and instability that this brings.

There may not be distance-selling pharmacies but neither are there electronic scripts or access to patient records. There are still capacity constraints, medicine shortages, not enough time for meaningful patient care and a funding model that pushes business viability to its limits.

So community pharmacy in Scotland desperately needs a modernised contractual framework. It looks like it will get one, with the focus firmly on quality of care, clinical expertise and service integration. The £2.592bn question is – will England get one too?

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