Selection of NPA highlights in 2018

08 Jan 2019

NPA's chair, Nitin Sodha, has selected the following as a highlight of services delivered to members in 2018:

Political and stakeholder engagement

The NPA partnered with well-known institutions in UK party politics to amplify pharmacy’s voice in a series of conference events: The Centre for Policy Studies (Conservative conference), the Fabian Society (Labour) and Lib Dems in Business. We continued to support actively the work of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Pharmacy, which in 2018 held inquiries about long term medical conditions and hosted drop-in briefing events for MPs.

We further developed relationships with patient groups, hosting roundtable events on health inequality and access to care.

We celebrated the 70th anniversary of the NHS in July. Local pharmacies are an essential part of the NHS front line and NPA members shared their proudest moments working in and around the NHS.

Standing up for independents

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld complaints by the National Pharmacy Association and others about claims by online pharmacy, Pharmacy2U. The watchdog said that Pharmacy2U had not been able to substantiate its claim that the NHS would currently save £300 million per year or more, if a significant proportion of the population switched to online repeat prescription services such as theirs. The NPA believes that online pharmacies have a place within the health sector, but all pharmacies must behave appropriately irrespective of their business model.

Proposals from Pfizer that would have placed impractical requirements on pharmacists and left them liable for patent infringement were thrown out by the Supreme Court. The NPA was a respondent in the case, which concerned patent protection of Lyrica and other medicines.

The long running legal battle against pharmacy funding cuts in England came to an end in August. We were naturally disappointed that the Court of Appeal rejected appeals by NPA and PSNC, but we have seen it as a prompt for meaningful dialogue between government, the NHS and the sector about a positive way forward. We are proud to have made a stand on behalf of our members and we continue to make the case for investment and reform.

Patient safety

Our Incident Reporting Platform (IRP) was updated into a user-friendly platform to help pharmacists report effectively and in a methodological order Our patient safety webpages were updated to become the one-stop medicines safety website for members.

Ask Your Pharmacist Week in November led with a medicines safety theme, encouraging patients to have full and frank conversations with their pharmacist and promoting medicines optimisation services including MURs.

Business & practice resources

Usage of Pro Delivery Manager (PDM) picked up significantly. Overall 20,000 deliveries are made a day using the PDM app and on average 40 deliveries made per day, per driver.
Users report that PDM is improving the efficiency of deliveries and enhancing customer relations.

We arranged a discount for members on the standalone FMD Connect system to help you comply with the February 2019 deadline for implementation of the Falsified Medicines Directive.

At mid-year we replaced the previous prescription collections service with the Royal Mail drop-off service. This service delivers a much better member experience for the hundreds of branches using the service.

We produced comprehensive resources to help members meet new obligations under General Data Protection Regulations, and resources to help members maximise NHS England Quality Payments, plus resources to manage stock shortages.

We continued to produce timely and high quality guidance on developments in pharmacy practice, for example on Adrenaline, flu and Cannabis oil-containing products for medicinal use.

These are just a small sample of the business and practice resources provided to members in 2018.

Clinical service development

The NPA trained more than 3,000 pharmacists for PGD vaccinations in 2018.

We resourced the evaluation of a medicines optimisation scheme in Sheffield, which freed up appointments in a nearby GP practice by conducting medication reviews in the pharmacy and providing other dedicated support to the practice. Roll out of such a model of care could release millions of GP appointments nationwide.

Westminster’s Pharmacy Minister, Steve Brine, praised our ‘Heartbeats on the high street’ scheme, which involves ten Essex based pharmacies joining forces to offer checks for high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation. Mr Brine described the scheme as “the prevention agenda in action”.

Workforce development

We are actively involved in the trailblazer employer group developing new apprenticeship standards for the pharmaceutical industry- and we aim to run an apprenticeship pilot scheme in the New Year. The results and feedback from this pilot will assist the NPA’s Education and Training team to refine the apprenticeship offering which includes a level 2 dispensing course and level 3 pharmacy technician course.

Shaping legislation and regulations

We argued against any rash move to change the rules on pharmacy supervision – in particular, we remain resolutely opposed to the remote supervision of pharmacies in almost all circumstances. Responding to the Department of Health and Social Care’s Rebalancing Medicines Legislation and Pharmacy Regulation consultation the NPA said the practice could compromise patient safety.

The NPA worked with other European pharmacy associations to lobby the European Commission and European Parliament as the FMD legislation was being developed. Aside from being part of the database organisation SecurMed UK, the NPA has established the UK FMD working group for community pharmacy. Its membership encompasses the UK’s main pharmacy contractor bodies (the NPA, AIM, CCA, PSNC, Community Pharmacy Scotland, Community Pharmacy Wales, and Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland). Engaging regularly with the Department of Health, the MHRA, and PMR and other IT suppliers, the group is seeking a pragmatic approach to implementing FMD.

We have submitted evidence to a wide range of official consultations, from GPhC inspections to Pre-reg. training, contingency plans for Brexit and many more.

Thought leadership

In the summer, we published See You Sooner proposals for improving access to NHS care, following a survey which revealed that most people believe access has plummeted. As you know, pharmacists can usually be seen by patients within minutes, typically without an appointment, but are currently restricted in the range of support they are allowed to deliver. National Voices and the Patients Association both backed our call for investment in pharmacy services that will allow pharmacists to put their clinical skills to fuller use.