Integrated care systems (ICS) will have funded community pharmacy integration leads from 2022/2023, Ed Waller, director of personalised care at NHS England and NHS Improvement has said.
Waller made the announcement in a session on the NHS white paper on integration and innovation at The Pharmacy Show 2021, held in Birmingham on 18 October 2021. He explained to delegates that the funded roles would be used to support transition to ICSs, with those holding the roles taking responsibility for leading implementation of community pharmacy clinical services locally.
The funding will support the posts for two years from 2022/2023 and will be paid for by the pharmacy integration fund (PhIF), which was established in 2016 to accelerate the integration of pharmacy professionals across health and care systems.
The PhIF will also pay for the creation of new regional senior pharmacy integration roles, which Waller said would sit below regional chief pharmacists.
“[These roles will] draw on the experience of other senior clinical pharmacy roles at regional level, supporting implementation and delivery of new services through clinical engagement,” he said.
ICSs are local partnerships across healthcare organisations that meet health and care needs across a geographical area. They were part of the ‘NHS long-term plan’, which was published in January 2019, and have been driven locally, seeking to remove barriers between health and local authority services. They originally grew out of sustainability and transformation partnerships, which were formed in 2016 to develop long-term plans for the future of health and care services.
Commenting on the announcement, Alastair Buxton, director of NHS services at the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), said that better integration of community pharmacy and its services within the wider health and care system was “at the heart of the agreed programme within the five-year ‘Community pharmacy contractual framework‘ (CPCF)”.
“This integration requires relationships to be developed or enhanced with colleagues in primary care networks (PCN), at place level and within ICSs; anything that can help facilitate this, such as NHS England and NHS Improvement’s planned investment in ICS integration leads, is to be welcomed,” he added.
“There is also a need for investment to support community pharmacy PCN leads to work with clinical directors and others in their PCN to improve team working and collaboration to the benefit of patients.”
Thorrun Govind, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board, commented: “[It is] great to see the NHS investing in local and regional pharmacy leadership to support pharmacy integration and help make new services a success.
“As we look ahead to the NHS recovery, pharmacists will be central to driving collaboration across the health service and enhancing patient care, safety and medicines optimisation.
“These new roles must now get the time, support and resources they need to have an impact and deliver better outcomes for their local populations.”
In September 2021, pharmacy bodies — including the PSNC — wrote to the parliamentary committee scrutinising the ongoing Health and Social Care Bill, demanding that pharmacists should be represented on the proposed new integrated care boards. These boards would be required to form an integrated care partnership and take on commissioning responsibilities from clinical commissioning groups.
- This article was corrected on 21 October 2021 to adjust the title of the ‘Community pharmacy contractual framework’