A light at the end of the tunnel - long live pharmacy
Community pharmacy has proven its place as the critical third pillar of our NHS, alongside GPs and hospitals throughout the Coronavirus pandemic. As we welcome the Government’s roadmap to returning to a world more familiar, conversations will begin to open up about how we plan, commission and deliver healthcare in the UK moving forward.
We know the Government intends to deliver significant reforms and we are optimistic that the value and potential of community pharmacy will be recognised. This will be important in delivering sustainable healthcare on the high street and critical to pharmacy’s future.
The launch of the DMS in England paves the way for pharmacy to be firmly established as that third pillar and we’d encourage members to get on board with delivering this vital service to patients.
The opportunities that exist to improve and manage the health of communities should not be neglected, as it is clear that remuneration pathways will open up even further when the Government see that added value community pharmacies can deliver. We stand more of a chance if we embrace what comes our way and will have more leverage to ensure pharmacy is ‘part of the conversation’ in any reform decision making and funding debate.
Pharmacies across the country have proven their worth
The bureaucracy and red tape that currently binds us from service optimisation needs to be removed and we are keen to be an intrinsic part of improved integrated healthcare. Pharmacies across the country have proven their worth and moreover capability in the safe and effective delivery of the COVID vaccine and potential for further expansion of the service is huge, we are ready, willing and able to support, further stamping our authority on delivering exceptional healthcare on the high street.
Our role, fundamentally, is to take the lead on the prevention of ill health, in tackling health inequalities and in the management, at least in part, of patients with chronic long term conditions.
It will be interesting to watch developments as part of the PHE’s health prevention and improvement functions and the newly formed National Institute for Health Protection (NIHP).
The NIHP will take on existing UK-wide responsibilities for health protection from PHE. They have committed to ensuring that appropriate links are made to decisions around the future of PHE’s remaining health improvement functions - this could present further opportunities for community pharmacy.
Now is the time to bite the bullet
What is clear is that when reforms and funding decisions are made, we’ll be ready. We have a strong army of dedicated and clinically able pharmacy teams for whom local communities and the NHS would be lost without.
As I’ve said many times before, now is the time to bite the bullet, mobilise our teams and take strength and support from communities to drive our business forward.
The future for pharmacy and the critical role they will be expected to play will ultimately be a blended approach of digital with bricks and mortar - each supporting the other. An online interaction should lead to a physical in-branch interaction, on the patient’s terms rather than ours.
Harness digital intelligence to foster and promote face to face care to a wider patient profile
Let’s do what we do best and provide instant access, face-to-face rounded patient care. Let’s provide patients with a range of ways to access their prescription in a way that’s convenient for them. We’re not about taking patients away from pharmacy, in fact the opposite is true, we want to harness digital intelligence to foster and promote face to face care to a wider patient profile – keeping our pharmacies alive and thriving.
It’s important to play to the strengths of community pharmacy and continually find new and engaging ways to bring patients and customers in through the doors – especially the younger generations.
2021 will be a year of even more change and I’d strongly encourage members to embrace this change. It’s easy to get swallowed up in the doom and gloom of funding issues and understand, I’m not undermining them, but let us try to lift our heads with optimism and hope and with the support of Numark embrace what the future holds. That future? Community Pharmacy at last recognised as The Third Pillar of the NHS.