This week I was at the House of Commons, representing the CCA at a meeting of the All Party Pharmacy Group (APPG). The group have been exploring pharmacy’s role and future potential for supporting people living with long term conditions and has recently heard evidence from a number of patient representative groups about where their challenges and opportunities lie.
The pharmacy professional, trade and representative bodies were out in force to discuss the important subject with the cross party group of MPs, of how the proposed Community Pharmacy Care Plan service could fulfil the needs of the NHS and patients. Current statistics estimate at least 15 million people in England have at least one long term condition, with 10 million having two or more. As all parts of the NHS are under persistent strain due to demand and capacity, this is a timely and critical inquiry.
The conversation was far ranging and covered much of the usual debate that the sector has been having for some time, particularly about the role that more aligned pharmacy and GP contracts could have in crossing professional divides and fostering better integration and collaboration. Commissioning was also on the agenda, and the role that NHS England and local commissioners can play by recognising the value and contribution that pharmacy teams could bring by delivering pharmaceutical care and improved public health as part of the wider NHS.
There was a real sense of unanimity from the sector representatives, with agreement on the need for change, both from the perspective of how we can support the resource and capacity constrained NHS by utilising pharmacy’s workforce, premises and knowledge to its full potential, and importantly for patients, who could receive better and more holistic care in their community from their pharmacy team.
One significant piece of work that has informed the Community Pharmacy Care Plan service has been conducted by the Community Pharmacy Future (CPF) project, which has built a body of peer reviewed evidence around how longitudinal care, focussed around the person and not a specific condition can deliver significant patient benefit in terms of outcomes and activation, as well as efficiency savings for the NHS.
CCA member companies, Boots, LloydsPharmacy, Rowlands and Well have worked together for a number of years on projects which have been developed and informed by NHS and government stakeholders to help to produce an evidence base to shape the future of pharmacy services.
The latest CPF study and its results show that the pharmacy care plan model of care, which has a person-centred approach at its heart, empowers patients to manage their own condition, and supports the NHS self-care agenda. The service is focused on interventions that community pharmacists can deliver using regular discussions with patients when they are collecting prescribed medication. These include tailored coaching, signposting, and self-management guidance aimed at increasing patients’ levels of activation.
The results suggest that for those included in the evaluation, enrolment on the service was associated with an improvement over 12 months in key clinical and process metrics, and would be cost-effective from an NHS perspective.
This empirical research clearly shows what pharmacy can deliver, right now, and is a firm basis on which case load management of people with long term conditions, potentially coupled with independent prescribing could be built upon in the future.
So, when I was asked by the Chair, Sir Kevin Barron MP what question we would put to the Pharmacy Minister, Steve Brine MP, the response was simple. Given the policy drivers, the undeniable need and strong body of evidence, why not?
Malcolm Harrison, Chief Executive