Think “big and bold” about the post-crisis world, says NPA following consultation with independent pharmacies

11 Jun 2020

The National Pharmacy Association wants pharmacies to become the starting point for most patient journeys, in the wake of COVID-19.

The call follows a number of virtual discussion forums with NPA members across the UK, ahead of talks with other pharmacy bodies, patient groups and the NHS about the future.

NPA vice chair, Nick Kaye, said today:

“Our discussions with members indicate a desire within the sector to go big and bold in our post-crisis offer to the nation, not just to go back to the way things were before.

“There will be a window of time to position community pharmacy decisively as the default starting point for most patient journeys, within integrated local care systems. This will help the NHS recover from the trauma of COVID-19 and bring lasting benefits.

“The health service will need to deal with the pent-up demand caused by coronavirus, including postponed elective surgery and delayed preventative interventions. Community pharmacy has a huge role to play in freeing up capacity to clear the backlog of care – especially if independent prescribing spreads its wings and better integration with other parts of primary care can be achieved.

“And with the Treasury needing to save money in the light of the massive public expenditure of the past few months, pharmacies can bring more care into the community and out of more expensive hospital-based care, if properly supported.

“Furthermore, the health system needs to be future-proofed against the inevitability of a future pandemic. This implies substantial investment in community pharmacies, which have proven themselves a key element of system resilience over the past few months.

“Some of this is about accelerating service innovations that are already underway in parts of the UK. Some of it is about thinking from first principles about the role of community pharmacy in a world that will be forever changed by the experience of this pandemic.

“Naturally, the NPA’s primary focus continues to be helping our members provide essential services in the here-and-now.  However, it’s also necessary to think ahead about a long list of issues for the post crisis world.”

Meanwhile an NHS England survey seeks to capture the beneficial changes which have been seen across general practice, primary care networks, and community pharmacy during the response to Covid-19.  NHSE&I says it wants to make sure these innovations are captured, evaluated and, where possible and appropriate, sustained for the future.