Thorrun GovindPharmacist and Solicitor
At Chamber’s Integrating Healthcare Seminar, in partnership with IQVIA, Thorrun Govind discussed how patient care can be supported through community pharmacy.
I was delighted to speak at the Integrating Healthcare summit about how we can make the most of community pharmacy to support patient care. It was clear from the speakers and the contributions from the audience just how crucial it is to use the skills of all our health professions to support the NHS recovery, reduce health inequalities, manage the growing cost of long-term conditions, and deliver best value from medicines.
The RPS Vision for Pharmacy Practice in England, developed with The King’s Fund, showed how the accessibility of community pharmacy will be key consideration in the future of patient care. As such it was great to see the announcement of a new ‘commons conditions service’ in the Primary Care Recovery Plan in May. This could be a game-changer for patients and will help manage demand across the health service and enable people to access care closer to home.
The Covid-19 pandemic put community pharmacy in the spotlight like never before, and it was high-time the Government recognised how much pharmacy teams support patient access to care and backed this with much-needed investment. It is vital that the final funding is now agreed so it can reach where it is needed. I would also want to see a national communications campaign to support this new service, helping patients understand what is available across the country and when.
The Common Conditions Service is a welcome step forward, but we know that pharmacists will also be looking to colleagues in Wales and Scotland and wondering what more we can do to build on this in future.
Pharmacists and their teams are ideally placed to support collaboration across the health service, working across traditional boundaries as part of a multidisciplinary team. This was recognised in the Fuller Stocktake, which marked another step on the journey towards integrating primary care and the wider NHS to deliver better care for patients.
To maximise the contribution of pharmacy teams, we will need to foster pharmacy leadership at system, place and neighbourhood level to ensure they are involved in decision-making. There needs to be a strong voice for primary care and pharmacy within new Integrated Care Systems, supported by new ICS Pharmacy Leads working with pharmacy colleagues across the system.
This also needs to be underpinned by investment in education and training, alongside protected learning time so pharmacists can continue growing their skills and develop new services. And if we are truly to deliver more integrated care, we must have the digital infrastructure to support it. We know that work is underway, but after all these years it is incredible that we are still waiting for community pharmacists to be able to update a clinical record with the care and treatment provided. I expect most patients think this can happen already.
I would also like to see the Government enable more efficient ways of working, such as allowing community pharmacists to make amends to prescriptions during medicines shortages to ease supply issues and to maximise all the roles in the pharmacy team.
A key question is now around the future of primary care commissioning and local collaboration, and how we can develop a sustainable approach which ensures continued patient access to care. Just as Integrated Care Systems are taking over commissioning of local pharmacy services, the Hewitt Review warned about how the scale and timing of cuts to ICB funding risk diverting time and energy from staff who are essential to transformation to improve patient care.
Support for the workforce will be crucial throughout all these changes, with teams already feeling stretched and focused on delivering the best care for patients. But we know there are real opportunities to better use the pharmacy workforce to help manage demand across the health service and by working together, can we develop long-term solutions which work for everyone and put patients first.
Watch Thorrun Govind’s discussion with Dr Pramit Patel here: