The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has welcomed an independent review of community pharmacy clinical services, saying that it describes a clinical, patient-centred role for community pharmacists, in line with its own vision for the pharmacy profession.
The review by Richard Murray, director of policy at the King’s Fund, was commissioned by Keith Ridge, chief pharmaceutical officer at NHS England, to help inform him about the future provision of clinical pharmacy services.
Published on 14 December 2016, the report sets out a number of recommendations for how community pharmacy services should be developed, including redesigning medicines use reviews, and calls for practical steps to be taken to ensure that an England-wide minor ailments scheme becomes a reality.
Speaking on behalf of the RPS, Sandra Gidley, chair of the RPS English Pharmacy Board, says: “Richard Murray has challenged NHS commissioners and the profession to make change happen. We have already seen a big change in the numbers of pharmacists working in general practice. This report provides a keen focus on community pharmacy with a clear objective of implementing, rather than talking, about change. The RPS is committed to playing its part in full in making the recommendations in this report happen.”
Gidley also says she is glad to see that the report calls for smoking cessation services to become part of community pharmacy’s national contract. She is also “encouraged” that the argument for a minor ailments service to be rolled out across England has changed from “if, to how, it will happen”.
She adds that recommendations for integration of pharmacy within Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) and the NHS Vanguard programme are now “urgent”.
“The ability of community pharmacy in particular to add capacity as well as compatibility to primary care must not be overlooked as care is redesigned… We recognise our responsibility in improving the support for pharmacists to build their professional confidence and break down barriers between health professionals that can hinder new ways of working.”
Gidley maintains the RPS’s concerns around the community pharmacy cuts highlighting that the pharmacy integration fund needs to be translated into a “workable implementation plan” for the profession to have confidence in delivering the recommendations laid out in the Murray review.
“We are not alone in being concerned in how the circle can be squared; a reduction in resources does not help pharmacists do more to improve patient care.”
She also points out that while the role of pharmacy technicians in the provision of prescription medicines through patient group directions (PGDs) makes sense with some services, such as the provision of influenza vaccinations, the RPS has concerns about the variability in training and experience of technicians, saying that these concerns will need to be addressed to ensure patient safety.