The Welsh Conservative Party has committed to expanding the role of community pharmacies under a new contract as part of its election manifesto.
The pledge comes as Community Pharmacy Wales (CPW) continues to negotiate a new contractual framework with the Welsh government.
The Conservative Party manifesto, which was published ahead of the Senedd elections on 6 May 2021, outlines plans to improve patient access to healthcare.
It says that, if elected to form a government, the Conservative Party would “extend the role of community pharmacies in delivering health care via a new contract, including prescribing for common ailments, delivering immunisations and diagnostic tests, and medicine reviews”.
Pharmacists in Wales are currently able to offer over-the-counter treatments for 26 illnesses under the common ailments service, which has been running since 2013.
Meanwhile, community pharmacies in the Cwm Taf Morgannwg and Betsi Cadwaladr University health boards have piloted a sore throat test-and-treat service since November 2018.
Community pharmacy representatives CPW said in a document of their asks from the leading political parties ahead of the election that it “is currently working with Welsh government to agree a substantially revised NHS contractual framework … placing much more emphasis on the clinical role that pharmacies provide”.
“The shared intention is to work to ensure that the complete package of changes will come fully into force before the end of 2023/24,” the document continued.
“These changes are designed to expand the role of community pharmacy in NHS funded health provision beyond the network’s important role in ensuring the supply of prescription medicines to patients across Wales.”
However, it added that to implement the new contract “will require a significant increase in community pharmacy funding”.
The Conservative Party’s pledge to expand the role of community pharmacy was echoed in the Liberal Democrat manifesto, which said it would commit to “better supporting community pharmacies to deliver a greater range of services” as part of improving local provision of care.
The manifestos from the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives, as well the Labour Party, all include plans to roll out e-prescribing.
This comes after the Welsh government tendered a contract worth nearly £25,000 in July 2020 for an independent review of options for electronic prescribing arrangements in Wales.
According to a National Assembly for Wales Public Accounts Committee report from March 2018, hospitals are currently using a paper-based prescribing process despite a national plan to implement electronic prescribing by 2010.
The Labour Party said in its manifesto that it will introduce e-prescribing as part of plans to “invest in and roll-out new technology that supports fast and effective advice and treatments”.
It adds that the Labour Party “will continue to reform primary care, bringing together GP services with pharmacy, therapy, housing, social care, mental health, community and third sector partners to support people to stay well”.
Russell Goodway, chief executive of CPW, told The Pharmaceutical Journal that CPW is “absolutely delighted that our central calls for a fuller role for community pharmacies — supported by the right information technology infrastructure — have made it into manifestos, so that there will be a cross-party consensus on the ever expanding role that community pharmacies can play over the next five years”.