UK pharmacy needs to promote itself as a significant caregiver, according to the independent chairman of a commission on its future role, who called for the profession to expand its role and achieve its aspirations.
Judith Smith, director of policy at the Nuffield Trust, told delegates at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) annual conference that the trust would undertake a one-year review of its ‘Now or Never: shaping the future of pharmacy’ report, published by the Commission on Future Models of Care, which laid out challenges and hopes for the pharmacy profession.
The RPS has asked the trust to conduct an independent assessment of the impact of the report to analyse whether the aspirations set out are being achieved. To do this, the Nuffield Trust will look at media and policy documents published since the report. It will interview key stakeholders and perform a survey of all those that attended the launch of the report last year. The review is scheduled to be published in December.
Smith told the conference that she felt pharmacy too often relied on evidence. “Waiting for research can be an excuse not to act, innovation happens by pushing at the boundaries,” she said. Pharmacists are already providing many services and models of care, so the contractual opportunities must already exist, she explained. In addition, Smith argued that the current NHS climate offers pharmacists a big opportunity. “There is a chance across the UK for pharmacists to seize territory and initiative at a time of workforce demand and financial pressures.” She warned that community pharmacy may otherwise “wither on the vine” as other professions fill the void.
Smith told delegates she had seen little evidence of a step-change in wider society and thought there was little awareness of pharmacy outside of the profession. She challenged the profession to prove that it really wants the change that is laid out in so many vision documents. “You will be the change you wish to be but are you really ready to change?” she asked.
On a positive note, Smith highlighted the numerous NHS England work streams that have focused on pharmacists in the last year, such as “the earlier the better” campaign, the urgent and emergency care review and referral to pharmacy through NHS 111.