May 10, 2016, by Editor
What is the political driver behind future pharmacy service provision and what can we learn from what has already been done?
This blog has been written by Robert Oakley, one of our third year undergraduate students. It is the fourth of four posts about his experience in attending a King’s Fund conference in February 2016 on “Commissioning person-centred care for vulnerable groups: what role does pharmacy play?”.
So now we are aware of some exciting new future opportunities, what will the Government be doing to support Pharmacists delivering innovative new services and what does it envisage that Pharmacy will achieve?
Alastair Burt MP emphasised how the Conservative Government wants to bring Pharmacists from the side-lines into the heart of the NHS.
The Government is aware that Pharmacy is best placed to do this by enhancing care of people who have long term conditions which Pharmacists have special expertise in assisting the NHS multidisciplinary team (MDT) in managing. To achieve this, the Government wishes to use the NHS 5 year forward plan as a template to foster the uptake of Pharmacy services. Therefore, all Pharmacy services in future will have to take a similar direction as the current Vanguard projects, they will need to become fully integrated into the primary and secondary healthcare systems. This will also enable Pharmacy to contribute to proposed 7 day health service.
The Government has acknowledge the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) publication The Right Medicine and will be making available a series of funding schemes to enable Pharmacists to deliver services to care homes and to other vulnerable patient groups. These will be in the form of Pharmacy access schemes based on a location’s health needs and a Pharmacy integration fund which, based upon the Lord Carter review, will incentivise innovation that delivers the best possible service clinically and economically.
An example of how this could be achieved in community pharmacy would be for patients to be discharged to their home instead of hospital and have a community Pharmacist playing an integral role in managing the patient in the community setting. Not just through dispensing their medicines, but by using their clinical skills to work with the multidisciplinary team (MDT).
Mr Burt said that the cuts to community Pharmacy were needed as there is currently an oversupply of community Pharmacies which are not currently delivering to their potential.
One organisation which is embarking on the challenges set by the government and has been critical of the current situation facing community pharmacy is Turning Point. Turning Point is a social enterprise providing specialist and integrated services which focus on improving lives and communities across mental health, learning disability, substance misuse, primary care, the criminal justice system and employment.
Turning Point identified that there were many negative value transfers within the NHS as if a patient walked into a healthcare setting which didn’t have a specific service commissioned to it, it couldn’t address the patient’s needs. Turning point identified that this was a weakness of community Pharmacy due to a barrier in electronic communication between the community Pharmacy, other healthcare providers and patients making community Pharmacy unable to be as personalised and efficient in dealing with each patient’s needs.
Turning Point also critiqued the Vanguard scheme as although there have been some great benefits associated with some schemes, other schemes were highlighted to be confusing for patients as they didn’t understand what the services did. It might seem as if we are going in a circle (thinking back to blog 2), but overall Turning Point emphasised how connective care could engage citizens in the design and configuration of services. For Pharmacy, it was highlighted that although politically it didn’t have as strong a voice as other stakeholders it could be much stronger if collaborations were formed between pockets of innovation such as increased uptake of Healthy Living Pharmacy services and innovative services were pitched in line with regional and national plans of commissioners (increasing their likelihood of funding).
Therefore, although change to the role of Pharmacists in the profession may be slow because power will be disrupted in creating new services, the overriding momentum of the benefit Pharmacy can bring to the UK health system will ensure it has a place in society for many more years yet to come.
It just requires you to lead the way.
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