The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) is recommending a ‘shake-up’ of the national contract for community pharmacy in England to increase the profession’s influence in shaping the NHS of the future.
It is recommending that NHS health checks — the general screening programme for all 40–74-year-olds in England — should be commissioned nationally and be made available through high street pharmacies.
And it says the New Medicines Service, where pharmacists support patients when they are first prescribed a new medicine, should be expanded to cover more conditions and include supplying antidepressants, because it can improve adherence by 10% and also save NHS money.
The comments come in the RPS’s response to a government consultation on the NHS long-term plan. The Society said that it is essential that contracts for health and care professions are “aligned” in order to boost collaboration and reduce professional “competition”.
The RPS additionally called for: medicines optimisation to be embedded throughout the health and social care systems; pharmacists to be encouraged to take on leadership roles; and the government to invest more money in post-registration pharmacy training and development.
Sandra Gidley, chair of the RPS English Pharmacy Board, said: “Whatever comes out of the NHS long-term plan, it will be crucial for health leaders to engage with pharmacists locally as they develop health and care services for the future.”
The RPS comments on the priorities for the NHS long-term plan, which will underpin how the government spends the extra £20.5bn per year it has pledged to invest in services by 2023/2024, follow calls from other pharmacy organisations for the government to “future proof” pharmacy funding and improve professional and digital integration across the sectors.