The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Pharmacy kicks off its inquiry into the future of pharmacy today focusing on making the most of community pharmacy in primary care. The inquiry will explore several pertinent topics to pharmacy including investment, workforce, how pharmacies fit into a system of ICSs and pharmacies’ role in alleviating health inequalities, amongst other things.
Community pharmacy has played an integral role during the Covid-19 pandemic, staying open throughout to meet the needs of local communities. Indeed, pharmacies have been integral in the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccines, administering 15 million thus far, and flu jabs – administering a record-breaking 3.8 million flu jabs. Here, we run through the key recommendations of the CCA’s response to the APPG:
- Investment: Community pharmacies have the potential to do more – particularly in alleviating pressures on other parts of the system – but only through stable and long-term investment in the sector. In our submission to the Treasury ahead of the Autumn Budget and Spending Review, we estimated that there are over £1.901 billion of benefits that could be realised through concerted investment to boost pharmacy capacity, including funding for a ’walk-in’ Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) and an increased role in prevention, particularly in screening for hypertension.
- Workforce: As we’ve reported previously, the community pharmacy workforce is facing a crisis in capacity. Without action to address this, we are concerned there are insufficient pharmacists or technicians to meet the needs of patients and the NHS. In the short-term, policymakers must understand the impact of the continued recruitment drive of pharmacists into Primary Care Networks (PCNs) which are beginning to bite community pharmacies. Beyond this, we are urging the Government to outline an efficient primary care model to enable community pharmacists to support PCNs and GPs.
- Integrated care: community pharmacy must be integrated into the refreshed health and social care landscape. When community pharmacies are fully integrated into local healthcare systems there are multiple benefits for patients and the NHS. We are urging ICSs to do their utmost to outline the priorities for the healthcare needs of the populations they serve as well as national standardisation of community pharmacies’ role – ensuring patients are aware of what services their local pharmacies can deliver. We have also called for ICSs, via their Integrated Care Partnerships (ICPs) to ensure representation of community pharmacy.