You will no doubt be aware that the NHS turned 70 this week. The whole nation is proud of our NHS and of those who work as part of it. Much as though this significant milestone is to be celebrated, we are also marking a major birthday here at the Company Chemists’ Association. The CCA was founded 120 years ago today, 50 years before the NHS was created. We were formed a mere six months after the birth of Aneurin Bevan, the father of our beloved NHS. In fact, it wasn’t until we were 21, in 1919, that the first Minister of Health, Dr Christopher Addison, was appointed. Since then we have worked alongside no fewer than 43 Ministers and Secretary of States for Health.
This milestone gives us a useful opportunity to reflect on how the world of medicines and healthcare provision has changed across three centuries, the challenges we now face, and how best to meet them.
Founded in 1898 as The Drug Companies Association Limited, the original seven members of the CCA included one of our current members, Boots, which then traded as Boots, Cash Chemists Ltd (Western). The Association’s main objective was to support and protect the character, status and interests of its members who ‘carried on the business of chemists and druggists’.
The CCA has always been influential in ensuring that policy and regulation enables pharmacy to grow, and it has actively championed the position of pharmacy on many issues. For example, we are currently getting our teeth into the Responsible Pharmacist/Superintendent Pharmacist proposals from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
Our purpose is to enable community pharmacy evolution. Given that the original founders of the CCA lived through an era of significant cultural and economic change, this pragmatic approach to a changing landscape would no doubt seem familiar to them.
Our vision is that everyone, everywhere, can benefit from world class healthcare and wellbeing services provided by their community pharmacy. Our members have a vital role to play in easing pressure in the health system. Where appropriate, we will continue to work with partners to make that case.
Just as Jesse Boot worked with his peers to lobby for change, the CCA represents the interests of its members by bringing together their unique skills, knowledge and scale for the benefit of community pharmacy, the NHS, patients and the public. Victorian chemists and druggists might be surprised to see the range of settings in which our members provide care, from shopping centres to local communities and from hypermarkets to health centres.
I’m sure that they would marvel at the way community pharmacy currently operates, and even more so at some of what’s coming over the horizon, such as artificial intelligence and 3D printing of medicines.
Today, the CCA’s activity is focused on:
- Advocating the role that community pharmacy can play in the modern NHS
- Ensuring the current and future community pharmacy workforce reflects the needs of patients and the NHS
- Providing care and healthcare services that can deliver the outcomes that patients need
- Ensuring that all community pharmacy teams can continue to provide safe medicines and expert advice to patients, and
- Ensuring that community pharmacy is an integral part of population level healthcare provision across England, Scotland and Wales.
Much of this work is led by our six standing working groups, and also delivered by the work of the three cross sector working groups that we support.
At a local level, the CCA nominates over 400 representatives from its member organisations to sit on local contractor committees across England, Scotland and Wales. These committees are independent groups which represent community pharmacy contractors at a local level, and who work with local NHS commissioning structures, local authorities and other healthcare professionals to help plan healthcare services.
These committees are a vital part of the overall community pharmacy landscape. CCA representatives support their contractor committees in their work locally and they in turn feed into the national discussions on pharmacy contract development. Events are taking place across England this September to support LPC representatives in this important role.
Our Victorian predecessors would certainly have approved of lobbying government to promote the interests of pharmacy and its role in patient care. While much has changed in the past 120 years, this core function has not.
Malcolm Harrison, Chief Executive