A vision for community pharmacy, which aims to move its focus towards a role at the heart of direct patient care, has been unveiled by the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA).
As part of its blueprint for the future, the PDA wants to establish a national network of group practices of pharmacists from community, primary and secondary care to help deliver consistent services across the sectors and iron out any variations or inequalities.
The group practice model would be similar to the current system of barrister’s legal chambers and could also involve other healthcare professionals such as nurses.
“What we are proposing is wider than community pharmacy,” said Mark Koziol, chair of the PDA. “With group practices we are talking about all groups of pharmacy to create some meaningful coordination between those working in community pharmacy, secondary care, in GP practices and care homes.”
In its ‘Wider than medicines’ paper, which will be published on 21 May 2018, the PDA envisages a future pharmacy system where “patient-facing” community pharmacists would routinely offer comprehensive medicines support to patients. This could include clinical prescription checks and playing a greater role in local antimicrobial surveillance.
At the same time, clinic pharmacists — working with their own patient list from community pharmacy or other settings — would offer more specialist care to patients on multiple medicines with long-term conditions.
An essential role of the new group practices would be to increase links across the different sectors and offer support to smaller independent pharmacies that have the passion, but not the resources, to offer increased clinical care to patients.
Pharmacy minister Steve Brine confirmed in April 2018 that the Department of Health and Social Care is prepared to consider moving from a community pharmacy contract that rewards the dispensing of higher volumes of medicines to one that rewards care provided to patients.
This follows calls from the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) that the new contract should focus more on developing care plans for patients.
Koziol said its vision for the future reflects the government and the PSNC’s ambition for community pharmacy and its role in managing patients with long-term conditions but goes a step further.
“What we are suggesting is that where the infrastructure doesn’t exist [to offer extended clinical roles], the group practice can help fill the gaps,” he said.
“This is very much about providing comprehensive pharmacy services and tackling inequalities and variations in services.”
Koziol revealed that the PDA was already in discussions with the PSNC and others about its vision and the potential shift away from a community pharmacy contract based on the volume of prescriptions to a contract focused on patient care, especially for those with long-term conditions.
He said: “There are discussions and meetings already going on between all of us to try and agree some kind of consistent approach to how this should be done.”