Sigma Pharmaceuticals has provided funding for a three year PhD scholarship aimed at developing a vision for community pharmacy in 2025. The project, which has already begun in the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology at the University of Bath, will look at how the sector can respond to issues such as the recent funding cuts.

Ms Evina Paloumpi, a pharmacist, is the PhD scholar undertaking this project. Her work will involve input from all relevant stakeholders, including patients, pharmacists, other health professionals, businesses and commissioners. It will also include a review of policy developments and innovation case studies. 

A fresh look at tackling issues

The scholarship is being supervised by Dr Matthew Jones, (lecturer in Pharmacy Practice), Dr Piotr Ozieranski, (health policy expert and lecturer in the Department of Social & Policy Sciences) and Professor Margaret Watson (professor of Health Services Research), University of Bath.

Dr Bharat Shah, director of Sigma, said: “Our involvement in this timely project resonates well with the general feelings and anxiety experienced throughout the pharmaceutical industry. It is my personal ambition to see the culmination of three years of solid, evidence-based research that will present an irrefutable case to our policy makers who seem at liberty to take decisions without consultation with the professionals. I am also hopeful that the findings will bolster the independent pharmacy sector and add a measure of security for the future.”

Dr Jones said: “Through this work, we aim to identify areas where government policy and stakeholder views align with existing samples of innovative and successful community pharmacy business. For example, such areas of consensus might include the provision of minor ailments services, management of chronic conditions, or a diversification of business models. These can then be used to develop a vision for the future of sector. As well as contributing to the evidence base for community pharmacy, this scholarship will also provide the scholar, Ms Evina Paloumpi, with in-depth research training. She will thus be equipped to contribute further to the development of the profession throughout her future career.” 

Ms Paloumpi said: “It has long been recognised that community pharmacy is a highly valued but underutilised resource. At times of financial austerity, uncertainty and growing population demands, pharmacy has a lot to offer. NHS plans for integrating care are continuously developing and community pharmacy must ensure it is actively involved. My research aims to facilitate responses to current challenges and identify some realistic next steps for the future.”

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