The House of Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee has commissioned an evaluation of the government’s progress on its pledges to improve pharmacy services in England, it has announced.
It will evaluate nine government commitments across five areas: community pharmacy; integrated care (including patient safety); hospital pharmacy; education, training and the pharmacy workforce; and extended services.
The panel will give a Care Quality Commission-style rating, ranging from ‘inadequate’ to ‘outstanding’, against each pledge, with a final overall rating given.
The expert panel will be led by Jane Dacre, professor of medical education at University College London. Commenting on the evaluation, Dacre said: “The role of pharmacy in delivering care, whether in the community, primary care or in hospital, has never been more important.
“The government has made a number of commitments aimed at improving pharmacy services and we’ll be looking at the progress to achieve these targets.
“In the process of our evaluation, we’ll be hearing from stakeholders from across the industry, including the pharmacy workforce and NHS and independent providers of pharmacy services. We’ll be considering pledges covering frontline services as well as the education and training of the workforce.”
Mark Lyonette, chief executive of the National Pharmacy Association, commented: “I am delighted to be invited to join the panel. Pharmacy, and community pharmacy in particular, stepped up and demonstrated its vital role for millions of patients throughout the pandemic.
He added that he hopes to help the select committee “evaluate to what extent UK government is delivering on making the best use of the third largest healthcare profession”.
Panel member Raliat Onatade, group chief pharmacist and clinical director for medicines optimisation at Barts Health NHS Trust, said she “applied to join the panel because I believe it plays a very important role in holding government to account”.
“I am an advocate of the value that the pharmacy profession brings to health and social care. Supporting the panel’s work is an opportunity to highlight areas where government commitments have and haven’t enabled the profession to achieve its full potential.
“My goal as a panel member is to help produce a balanced report which rings true for everyone who reads it. Spotlighting both successes and areas of underachievement.”
Thorrun Govind, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board, said the evaluation was welcome, but added that it must “translate into action for the whole of pharmacy as part of the NHS long-term workforce plan”.
“We welcome the further scrutiny of government action to deliver against its promises for pharmacy,” she said.
“Pharmacy teams across the health service are under enormous pressure and if we want to recruit and retain the staff we need, it is vital they get the support they deserve.
“As well as investment for education and training, we know that pharmacy teams are looking for protected time to support their learning and development. They also need continued access to wellbeing services and, with potential cuts to funding, it remains to be seen how national programmes will work alongside integrated care systems to support their workforce.”