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  Don Lavoie is alcohol programme manager at Public Health England and Gul Root is lead...
Don Lavoie is alcohol programme manager at Public Health England and Gul Root is lead pharmacist, Health and Wellbeing Directorate, Public Health England
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money notes pound coinsJanuary 11 2016

The NHS Alliance has said it is “extremely concerned” about the 6% reduction being proposed for the community pharmacy contract remuneration in 2016-17.

“We feel that this could result in the closure of a large number of high street pharmacies, with the knock on effect being an increase GP workload,” it said last week. “We feel that all elements of primary care provision require additional resources, not just GP practices, in order to facilitate the safe and effective transition to hospital based care to care closer to home.”

NHS Alliance is an independent, not-for-profit, leadership organisation representing “progressive providers” of care outside hospital. In 2014, it published a report ‘Pharmacists and General Practice’ which has been the basis of its ongoing support and drive to promote the inclusion of pharmacists within the general practice team.

“The improvement in skill mix and unique partnership with practice nurses will generate improvements in patient care and has the opportunity to stabilise general practice,” it said.
“We have recognised the role that community pharmacists have in the management of minor ailments and minor injuries in the community and the valuable effect in reducing GP workload. And, we recognise the role of pharmacists in the provision of emergency and out of hospital urgent care.”

While it said it can understand the need for efficiency savings and the value that automation may bring, it added: “We have heard, so many times, that pharmacists are underutilised within the NHS.

“This is a time to engage community pharmacy within primary care offering first line advice to patients, supporting self-care and reducing workload in general practice. We should be integrating community pharmacy and general practice in the provision of minor ailment and minor injury service, both within standard opening hours and when general practice is closed. And, creating new services where general practice can refer patients to community pharmacy for on-going management.”

An online petition has passed the 10,000 signatures mark, the point at which the Government says it will issue a response. For it to be considered in a parliamentary debate, the petition needs over 100,000 signatures.

National Pharmacy Association Chairman Ian Strachan has said that “there is no mandate for these changes and they look every bit like proposals dreamt up in Whitehall rather than developed by pharmacists at the coal face.

“We must articulate to policy makers the value of our network, so that they do not think, wrongly, that large scale automation could reduce the need for bricks and mortar pharmacies, rooted in communities; that prescriptions could be collected from general convenience stores or automated collection points; that patient advice supplied through remote contact centres is equivalent to face-to-face advice given in local pharmacies by accessible health care professionals.

Links:

NHS Alliance statement 

Parliament petition

NPA statement

Today’s Pharmacist coverage of petition

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