NHS leaders aim to step up community pharmacy engagement

27 Sep 2021

A new report looking at how community pharmacy will work as part of Integrated Care Systems (ICS) lists seven requirements to help bring the best out of the sector.


Co-authored by the NHS Confederation, the National Pharmacy Association and the Primary Care Pharmacy Association, the report highlights the key themes of a roundtable discussion in July, involving primary care networks, primary care federations and other stakeholders in local systems.

Dr Graham Jackson, GP and Senior Clinical Advisor at the NHS Confederation chaired the discussion. He said today:

“It is critical that all available clinical capacity is used effectively. Our report examines the opportunities of collaboration with community pharmacy and identifies key enablers available to local systems, as well as addressing barriers.”

“We urge PCN clinical directors, primary care federation leaders and others locally to support community pharmacists to navigate the emerging NHS structures and thoroughly consider what pharmacies can bring to the table in terms of urgent care, public health, medicines optimisation and more.”

Andrew Lane, NPA chair said:

“The covid-19 pandemic has shone a bright light on the value of working collaboratively across systems. Community pharmacy can deliver most as an integral part of the system rather than being seen as an adjunct to the main action. The sector has an important role to play as a full partner within PCNs, with primary care federations and Integrated Care systems.

“Medicines safety and optimisation is widely recognised as part of pharmacy’s unique skill set but increasingly community pharmacy will collaborate with partners in primary care to deliver integrated clinical services to the population.

“This report shows that community pharmacists are not a voice in the wilderness within the NHS. It is fantastic to have the NHS confederation weighing in with their encouragement.”

Seven key requirements to ensure that the benefits of involving community pharmacy are realised are identified in the report:

• Community pharmacists must be given the time and space to get involved in working through the development of local services with their primary care colleagues.
• Community pharmacy and general practice need to work through some of the historical perceptions of their relationship as providers being one of competition and move to a position of collaboration as providers and a single voice for primary care.
• To achieve change at scale, service developments must be translated into a national contract specification for local adoption with the ability for some local flexibility to be applied to meet the specific needs of a local population.
• Nationally specified services should be properly resourced, recognising that commercial viability is a valid request by contractors in the NHS.
• ICSs must support the implementation of nationally specified services backed up with appropriate mechanisms to involve community pharmacy in decision-making at all levels and resources available to enable this.
• An appropriate information technology and information governance framework is needed to support data sharing and facilitate the development of local services and the implementation of national services.
• An appropriate medico/legal framework is needed which recognises the role of pharmacists as independent prescribers and resolves issues relating to conflicts of interest.

The report will be distributed to primary care networks, primary care federations and other stakeholders in local systems.

To read the full report click here.