NPA convenes patient group roundtable to discuss access to care

22 Mar 2018

NPA staff and members met with patient groups in Westminster this week (20 March), to agree broad principles of access to medicines, medicines advice and primary care.

The roundtable, which included representatives from, amongst other groups, the British Heart Foundation, Parkinson’s UK, Kidney Care UK, the Hepatitis C Society and Healthwatch England, discussed the service user perspective on waiting times, face to face care, digital technology and the importance of integrating community pharmacy care into NHS urgent care pathways.

The meeting also marked the beginning of a partnership with the charitable sector about reducing the risk of medicines errors.

Jane Dunnage, who has Lupus, said at the meeting:

“Community pharmacists don’t blow their own trumpet enough.  They do more than dispense pills, and everyone at the meeting agreed that medicines alone, without the wrap around support, are not enough to keep people in good health over the long term.  I want to see pharmacies do more to improve access to care, but this must never be by pitting pharmacists against doctors. As patients, we need to feel that healthcare professionals are a team, not competing.”

Mike Maguire, of Marton Pharmacy near Middlesbrough, told the patient groups about the North East Community Pharmacy Referral Scheme, which enables NHS111 to refer set groups of patients to community pharmacies for the assessment, advice and treatment of common ailments.   Speaking after the event, he said:

“What was remarkable is the degree of patient support for pharmacy schemes which are both accessible and integrated.  These seem to be two really key ingredients as far as service users are concerned.  There was a clear consensus for extending community pharmacy’s role in urgent care and also in relation to supporting people living with long term conditions.”

NPA Chairman, Ian Strachan, said:

“We should always be very mindful of the patient perspective on developments in pharmaceutical care.  This roundtable was a great opportunity to deepen our understanding of the needs of patients from a policy perspective.  The participants at the meeting reminded us that access to care has many dimensions to it – not just proximity and waiting times, but also economic and cultural aspects.  We are grateful for the help of National Voices in putting this event together.”

The NPA’s Access to Medicines, Medicines Advice and Primary Care Roundtable took place on 20 March.  It is the first in a series of themed NPA discussions with key stakeholders about emerging developments in pharmacy policy and practice.