It is nonsense to say the NHS is running out of money – the Government is investing in GPs and disinvesting in community pharmacy. So claimed Hemant Patel, secretary of North East London LPC, speaking on the third day of Sigma’s conference in Kota Kinabalu.

The GP Forward View, published in April 2016, pledged to increase recurrent funding by £2.4bn a year by 2020/21 and the Government is to set out how £3.5bn in additional capital funding will be spent by 2022-23. “Pharmacy will not get a single penny,” said Mr Patel.

Serious re-engineering is going on in the NHS, he continued. “If pharmacy doesn’t fit into the new system it will be rejected. If it is not part of the new solution, it is part of the old problem. Pharmacists need to act, think and invest differently.” It means developing relationships with a whole set of new organisations at a local level.

Community pharmacy’s biggest mistake has been to focus solely on medicines, while forgetting about what is happening elsewhere in the health service, Mr Patel claimed.

Community-based care will be the central focus of the new system with the aim of improving population health. Pharmacy requires a shift in thinking: caring for the whole person, not just their medicines, which aligns with the move from profession-based to population-based commissioning by STPs.

Professionals will need to work together across boundaries, and organise and co-ordinate care around patients’ needs, making best use of all the community’s assets.

The future is about connecting and integrating with partners in accountable care organisations such as GPs, hospitals, schools, mental health services, third sector or care homes in a federated set-up. “Pharmacists must engage with their STPs,” he emphasised.

“There is a new way to provide pharmacy services following a high street clinic model,” he said. “At the moment we call ourselves community pharmacy, but are we thinking about location or being part of a community?,” he asked delegates.

Speaking to Pharmacy Magazine, Mr Patel said the NHS reforms will happen quickly and at scale. Pharmacy has to respond accordingly. “This is revolution, not evolution. Pharmacy has to work out where it fits within local systems that support health and social care, and how it can influence strategy – quickly.”

Pharmacists need to act, think and invest differently

Originally Published by Pharmacy Magazine

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