The English Pharmacy Board of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and the National Association for Primary Care (NAPC) have come together for a joint consultation to create a debate around how community pharmacy and General Practice can work better together in the interest of patients.
In this blog, Howard Duff, Director for Team England at the RPS, shares his perspectives on centralised and localised models for commissioning pharmacy services – a key question for the consultation – and encourages all those with an interest in this area to get involved.
One of the chief issues relating to the organisation of primary care provision that is currently being debated, and which our consultation is seeking to address, is that of which services should be centrally arranged through the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) and which should be locally organised.
We want providers and users of primary care to tell us where they want to shift the focus from national to local commissioning to enable local commissioners to better meet patient needs.
There is clearly a strong rationale for continuing to organise some services nationally; you may feel that whatever is carried out in a uniform way across the country, or would benefit from uniform delivery irrespective of location, should always be structured nationally and remain part of a national contract. Services such as these could include most of the elements of the current essential tier of the CPCF, for example, payments for supply. You may think, as I do, that a national contract should also include a Minor Ailments Scheme (where community pharmacy has the capacity to provide the ‘first port of call’ for minor self-limiting conditions with a potential £1 billion saving for the NHS) and the urgent supply of repeat medicines scheme.
You may also have a view on a potential third model of provision, one where services are entirely managed and commissioned locally. I think there is a valid argument to support this where local care pathways may benefit from the expertise and accessibility of community pharmacists. Such services could include areas with a higher proportion of people who misuse drugs, who may have specific needs for Hepatitis B and C vaccine provision, as well as areas with communities who may benefit from outreach work for screening and treatment of TB and latent TB.
If you have a view on how primary care services could be better organised between General Practice and community pharmacy to improve patient care please respond to our current consultation before the closing date of October 9.
Howard Duff is Director for England at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.