NHS England should take a lead on integration in primary care, including the alignment of provider contracts, including that for community pharmacy, to ensure that patients experience coordinated and consistent care, says a report from the All Party Pharmacy Group.

"Aligning contracts and incentives for different providers is an important step towards integration, and should be introduced as part of the contractual negotiation process,” suggests the APPG, following an inquiry.

‘In Good Health – A report following the All Party Pharmacy Group’s 2018 Inquiry into Long Term Conditions’ found that patients are concerned that hospitals, GPs and pharmacies, as well as other community services, do not communicate with or understand each other well enough. This is “frustrating for patients and expensive for the NHS,” says APPG.

Patients with long term conditions reported that they often find their care is ‘impersonal, confusing and duplicative’ and there is scope for pharmacy to do more to address these problems, concluded the group.

The inquiry drew evidence from a range of sources, such as the patient charities Age UK, British Lung Foundation, Diabetes UK and National Voices.

Key points of the report are:

  • Patients with one or more condition should have access to a care plan, giving them more control over how their condition is managed
  • NHS England should take a lead on integration in primary care, including the alignment of contracts and incentives for providers
  • Patients with long term conditions should have consistent access to high quality services that help them to self care
  • Community pharmacy services should be commissioned at a national level, in order to meet patients’ expectations of receiving the same levels of service from the NHS wherever they live.

Community pharmacy should have a stronger role in supporting patients with multiple long term conditions to have more control of their care, has suggested, following an inquiry. Individualised care plans for patients with one or more condition would allow them to set goals for treatment and to regularly review progress with a healthcare professional.

In a letter to pharmacy minister Steve Brine MP, Sir Kevin Barron, chair of the All Party Pharmacy Group, said that forthcoming negotiations on the pharmacy contract would be an opportunity to implement the report’s recommendations. These negotiations may begin “shortly”, Sir Kevin Barron suggested.

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