National Pharmacy Association responds to overprescribing review

The clinical skills of all pharmacists should be used to tackle the overprescribing of medication, the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has said, in response to a major government-commissioned review into the issue.

Led by Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for England Dr Keith Ridge, the report found 10 per cent of the volume of prescription items dispensed through primary care in England are either inappropriate for that patients’ circumstances and wishes, or could be better served with alternative treatments. Nick Kaye, Vice Chair at the National Pharmacy Association said:  “This is a highly significant report.  Medicines are the single most widespread healthcare intervention, so it’s vital that their use is optimised, to help patients and to ensure value for money for the NHS. “Community pharmacists could play an increasingly important role in ensuring effective prescribing, for example through Structured Medication Reviews and as independent prescribers. That will improve patients’ access to advice and deploy the expertise of pharmacists to good effect. The clinical skills of all pharmacists, not just those working in GP practices, need to be brought to bear further on this important agenda. “On the flip side of overprescribing is the matter of helping patients get the most from their medicines once dispensed, which is the bread and butter of community pharmacy.  New services like the Discharge Medicines Service and the extended New Medicine Service build on this role significantly.  “In implementing the report’s recommendations, the principle of shared decision-making will be very important, so that the focus is always on getting the best from medicines and never on denying access to medicines, which serves to exacerbate health inequalities.”…

You’ll be our anchor, First Minister of Wales tells NPA members

The First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, and Wales’ Chief Pharmaceutical Officer Andrew Evans were among guests to gather at Cardiff Castle on Monday to celebrate the centenary of the National Pharmacy Association.

Mark Drakeford told the assembled NPA members:  “The word ‘community’ in community pharmacy means something. As well as being an essential clinical resource, community pharmacy is an economic driver.  As we rebuild after the pandemic, you will be one of the anchors that help maintain the vitality of local high streets.” He praised the work of pharmacy teams during the pandemic, saying: “You have been on the frontline of the extraordinary experience we’ve all been through. Without you we wouldn’t have got through this together… that’s why there is support for community pharmacy across the political spectrum in Wales.” Making a formal toast, Andrew Evans said: “We have ambitions for a reinvented community pharmacy service – one that is thoroughly modern but built around the values and behaviours that are intrinsic to independent community pharmacy. The NPA and its members will have an invaluable role in that future.” Health & Social Services Minister, Eluned Morgan, told guests, via a recorded video message, that the lessons of the pandemic will “help us further develop the role of pharmacies” and promised ongoing support. She looked forward to “a positive agreement [with Community Pharmacy Wales] later this financial year, which will reflect our shared ambition that every community pharmacy in Wales will provide an extended range of services, available consistently across the country.”…

Northern Ireland protocol: NPA calls for medicines deal

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) today issued a fresh appeal to Brexit negotiators to reach an understanding that will allow manufacturers and suppliers to continue to supply medicines as normal to Northern Ireland.

Under the Northern Ireland protocol, part of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, medicines made in UK have to be licensed separately for use in the country including separate safety inspections and other checks before they can be given to the public. It came into force on 1 January 2021, and is now part of international law. The NPA board discussed this issue during its board meetings on 28-29 June. NPA board representative for Northern Ireland, Michael Guerin, said: “This situation, if unresolved, will be intolerable for NPA members and patients in Northern Ireland. We are deeply concerned that the additional cost and complexity of getting medicines into Northern Ireland will result in some manufacturers and suppliers not bringing products to the market. This could result in reduced stock being available, leading to medicine shortages and an increase in the procurement costs. “The medicines supply to Northern Ireland is integrated into the UK market and works on a just in time basis. Close alignment of regulations would help to limit future disruption. We urge the EU and the UK to address this issue urgently and not leave it for patients, carers, pharmacists and GPs to pick up the problem further down the line.…

New health secretary committed to pharmacy, NPA conference told  

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) conference heard today (5 July) that Sajid Javid, the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, is committed to community pharmacy and has already had talks on the subject with Public Health Minister Jo Churchill.

Jo Churchill told the audience of independent pharmacy owners and health service stakeholders: “The new secretary of state and I have already had conversations about pharmacy and its value to the system, so I’m sure that commitment is there.  As a government, we are committed to the idea of community pharmacy as the first port of call for minor illnesses and having a key role at the heart of primary care and prevention.” “I believe you have an essential role as part of the NHS family and bring amazing value to local communities”, she added. During her 30-minute address, the Minister thanked pharmacies for going “above and beyond” during the pandemic. She said that she, Sajid Javid and his predecessor Matt Hancock were all grateful for the work of pharmacies in supplying vital medicines and keeping people safe. She expected the number of pharmacist-led Covid vaccination sites to go up “by hundreds”. The NPA conference continues online until Thursday. …

Pharmacy Minister backs new plan to beat COVID and rebuild NHS  

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) today launched “a bold plan” for England’s community pharmacies to protect the population from COVID-19, improve access to primary care and prevent ill health.

Speaking at this week’s NPA conference, Public Health Minister Jo Churchill MP said she is “encouraged” by the plan and wants to see community pharmacy sitting at the heart of primary care. The plan, called How We Can Help, argues that pharmacies are well placed for a central role in delivering booster COVID-19 vaccinations, allowing GPs to focus on clearing the care backlog in the NHS. It highlights pharmacists’ strong face-to-face relationships with patients and years of experience delivering flu vaccines.  It also covers pharmacy’s broader potential in preventing ill health, managing long term conditions and providing access to care near to where people live, work and shop. NPA chair, Andrew Lane, said: “Today we’re launching the National Pharmacy Association’s bold plan to unleash the potential of community pharmacy in England. Provided there’s sufficient ongoing support from government and NHS, pharmacies can help get the country through the pandemic, help the NHS catch up on lost ground and be a foundation stone for better care in the future.  Pharmacies have been central to the NHS response to Covid throughout, and you can be sure that the end of lockdown won’t be the end of the story of our sector’s epic contribution.…

PSNC announcement on covid costs: NPA response

Responding to PSNC’s announcement today that they have reached a deal with HM Government about Covid costs incurred by community pharmacies, NPA chief executive Mark Lyonette said: “It’s good that the government has finally listened to our repeated appeals for a decision about how Covid costs will be repaid to pharmacies in England.  We look forward to examining the fine print of these arrangements. “It shouldn’t have taken battle buses, petitions, newspaper campaigns and public protests by NPA members to get us to this point.  “We have persistently pressed the government in private and held them to account in public on this matter. “We also acknowledge the many MPs who have backed us in parliament, including the All Party Pharmacy Group. “This is no more than our members deserve – after all pharmacies bore Covid costs in good faith that they would be repaid, in the service of the nation. “It’s now really important that contractors claim all that is due to them within the July 5 – August 15 window.  The NPA will provide support and guidance to our members, most of whom do not have a big back-office to carry out the task of accounting for costs. “We’re pleased that the issue of Covid costs is at last being addressed, but attention must also be given to fixing the pharmacy contract in England, which remains seriously underfunded.”…

Hajj and Umrah advice 2021

New restrictions announced for pilgrims wanting to perform Hajj in 2021 – limited to 60,000 pilgrims already living in Saudi Arabia

  This year, the Islamic pilgrimage of Hajj is expected to fall approximately between 17 July and 22 July 2021. The large crowds and mass gatherings at Hajj and Umrah present a number of associated health risks. This is particularly significant in the current climate with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, permission to perform Umrah was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Saudi authorities have gradually allowed a limited capacity of pilgrims to perform Umrah. The Saudi Press Agency issued an announcement from the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah regarding Hajj 2021/1442AH on 12 June 2021. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, rites to perform Hajj would be limited to 60,000 pilgrims already living in Saudi Arabia. Pilgrims from outside Saudi Arabia would not be permitted to enter to perform Hajj in 2021. It should be noted that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office currently advises British nationals against all but essential travel to Saudi Arabia.   Key points for pharmacy teams: Read the information in the links below for further details Advise individuals seeking information about Hajj and Umrah 2021/1442AH, are in line with the most up-to-date government guidelines   References and further reading: Travel Health Pro: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/news/586/hajj-1442ah-2021-updated-restrictions-announced UK: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/saudi-arabia/pilgrimage   Please contact the Pharmacy Services team for further advice and support: Telephone: 01727891800 (Mon-Fri 9am to 6pm, Sat 9am to 1pm) Email: pharmacyservices@npa.co.uk  …

New plan for Health MOTs: National Pharmacy Association response

NHS England has announced that there will be ‘Health MOTs’ at NHS vaccination services, pharmacies and clinics this autumn

The NHS will offer a range of targeted tests including blood pressure, heart rhythm and cholesterol checks when people drop in for top-up Covid jabs or flu vaccinations. Further details are awaited. NPA chief executive, Mark Lyonette, said: “We don’t yet have the details, but it makes sense for pharmacies to be part of any new initiatives to monitor heart health and cholesterol, given how accessible they are and their proven track record in preventative care. “It looks like a chance to identify underlying health problems which may have been missed during the coronavirus lockdown, and highlights the important role pharmacies will have in the nation’s post-pandemic reset. “We hope it’s not a one-off scheme limited to a select few pharmacies, but something that can be scaled to turbo-charge access to cardiac support through community pharmacy. “Given the magnificent contribution of pharmacies throughout the coronavirus pandemic, it’s natural that they should be seen as a solution in other areas of prevention and public health too.” The announcement was made by NHS England’s Chief Operating Officer, Amanda Pritchard, at the NHS Confederation conference this week.…

Job security during the pandemic: working in community pharmacy as a kickstarter

Since the government began its Kickstart Scheme back in September 2020 community pharmacies have been stepping up to fill as many work placements as they can.

  The backdrop before the launch of Kickstart was grim – the nation faced one of the worst unemployment rates in history and many sectors faced a workforce shortage due to staff having to self-isolate as a result of Covid-19. While the Chancellor’s furlough scheme was trying to keep workers afloat, the Kickstart Scheme became a means to enable young people, at risk of long term unemployment, get on the job ladder. Guided by the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) and recruitment agency Reed, hundreds of young Kickstarters are working in community pharmacies across the country with many more waiting to start. Victoria Duricic-Moutrey is just one of those. The 23-year-old, who is currently doing a placement at Clarke Pharmacy in South-West London, finished a degree in Biomedical Science in Chester last year before moving to the capital. “I’ve been trying to apply for jobs for five months and it was impossible,” she says. “I was applying for lab assistant jobs because that’s what I wanted to do but for some reason it’s so difficult to even land an interview.” Victoria applied for the kickstart scheme via her university. “They asked if there was anything else I’d be interested in doing for the mean time because I’ve been getting nowhere with applying for lab assistant jobs,” she explains.” “So I said anything science based would be good.…

Mayor of London in awe of community pharmacy

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has described community pharmacy teams as “unsung heroes” during the pandemic and said it was in the interests of government to inject more funding into the sector.

The comments were made during a In Conversation with Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London event organised by the Asian Media Group and Eastern Eye newspaper on Thursday (29 April). NPA chief executive, Mark Lyonette asked the Mayor, “Would the Mayor like to take this opportunity to thank the capital’s 1800 community pharmacy teams for staying open throughout the pandemic, thereby keeping the wheels on the NHS and maintaining access to advice, medicines and vaccines?” Mr Khan responded that he was “in awe and grateful for our pharmacy teams across London” and described them as “unsung heroes.” “I’ve been to pharmacies in many occasions over the last few weeks and months, not least receiving my flu jab. I have asthma so I go to a pharmacy regularly. Many people couldn’t go see their GP, they couldn’t get an appointment they didn’t have the confidence to use technology. The human beings that were available, that were the experts, were pharmacists. “I’m so in awe and grateful of pharmacies across our city. Many of them are small independent family businesses and they have shown the public how brilliant they are.” Jignesh Patel, from Rohpharm pharmacy in Newham, asked the Mayor about pharmacy funding. The Mayor responded that there is a strong economic case for investment in pharmacies and that London needs a strong network of pharmacies to help handle the next pandemic, when it comes.…