A “future-proof” funding model is needed to ensure that pharmacy can maximise its contribution to the long-term future of the NHS, the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) has said in its response to a NHS England consultation.
Prime minister Theresa May announced a new funding settlement for the NHS in June 2018, confirming that it will receive an extra £20.5bn per year by 2023–2024. In return for the funding, the NHS was told to produce a ten-year plan setting out how improvements to healthcare would be delivered.
A discussion paper, ‘Developing the long-term plan for the NHS’, published in July 2018, asked clinical experts and stakeholders for their experiences, insights and ideas on how the extra funding could improve health services.
The CCA, which represents the major pharmacy chains, along with the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, has been working closely on making a case for pharmacy in its responses to the consultation, which closed on 30 September 2018.
In its response, the CCA called for stronger recognition, clearer planning and bolder innovation in how community pharmacy services are funded and regulated. It highlighted that a long-term and future-proof funding model would best equip the sector to make a vital contribution to population health outcomes for the next generation.
“Community pharmacy funding and governance must be both cost effective for the NHS and contractors to deliver,” said Malcom Harrison, chief executive of the CCA.
“Otherwise patients and the public will have fewer services and we will have missed an opportunity to create new ones that best meet people’s current and future health and wellbeing needs”.
The CCA also called for fuller digital interoperability between community pharmacy and other services; commissioning a national community pharmacy-led care plan service; and enhancing and extending community pharmacy-based medicines optimisation activity.
The PSNC agreed that finances, along with technology and lack of integration, were key barriers to improving care within the NHS and wanted to see further commissioning of services to enable community pharmacies to do more to help people to stay healthy and manage any minor or long-term conditions.
It highlighted four values that it said must underpin the NHS’s long-term plan: to provide a comprehensive service, available to all; to aspire to the highest standards of excellence and professionalism; for the patient to be at the heart of everything the NHS does; and to be committed to providing best value for taxpayers’ money.
The NPA proposed its own values in the form of five “critical” tests for the long-term NHS plan: for the NHS to be a truly “neighbourhood” health service as well as a national one; for the NHS to be using technology to achieve efficiencies without losing the human touch; for the NHS to look more like a wellness service rather than an illness service by focusing more on prevention; for the potential of the entire health and social care workforce to be realised, including that of local pharmacists; and for the poorest patients and communities to benefit from the new investment.
IT also described pharmacists as being the facilitator of personalised care for people with long-term conditions, the trusted, convenient first port of call for episodic healthcare advice and treatment and the neighbourhood health and wellbeing hub.
The long-term plan is expected to be published to coincide with the autumn budget, set for 29 October 2018, when further details of the NHS funding uplift will be set out.