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The NHS has told community pharmacy representatives that the sector is “moving too slowly” at engaging with emerging local health structures and risks being left behind.

Speaking at a leaders’ panel on the first morning of the Pharmacy Show in the Birmingham NEC yesterday, NPA chief Mark Lyonette said that in a “chastening” meeting between NHS England and trade bodies, officials had warned: “The bus is setting off, you’re not engaging with it.”

Mr Lyonette also criticised the slow progress being made on the community pharmacy representation and support review by the PSNC, which was described as “glacial” by panel chair Richard Thomas.

AIMp chief executive Leyla Hannbeck said pharmacies need to “boss” integrated care structures – “we have pharmacies in every community, without  us patients won’t get the service they need” – and said she had asked NHS officials to explain why pharmacist representation is not a requirement on the new integrated care boards which will have responsibility for local service commissioning.

On the role pharmacy’s medicines supply function will play in a contractual framework increasingly dominated by services, Ms Hannbeck said “supply is not a dirty word – supply is clinical,” explaining that pharmacists frequently make interventions that prevent patients coming to harm from the medicines they are prescribed.

Meanwhile, CCA chief Malcolm Harrison said the NHS “clearly wants to pay us less for supply” and said it was hard for pharmacies to plan for the future when they don’t know how much the NHS plans to “strangle” funding.

Hannbeck said NHS England “is taking us more seriously” after the pandemic “but we have a long way to go – prevention of disease should be our domain, vaccination should be our domain”.

She said pharmacy representatives “need to be around the table” from the start when new services are being discussed, citing the low referral rates from GPs to pharmacies via the CPCS as an example where things have gone wrong.

Malcolm Harrison asked for greater clarity on the clinical targets NHS England hopes to achieve through new services such as the hypertension case finding service.




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