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21.07.17

Making community pharmacy integral to STP solutions

Source: NHE Jul/Aug 2017

James Roach discusses his work with the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) to develop a new community pharmacy service offering for sustainability and transformation partnership (STP) areas.

Pharmacies are a local lifeline and are vital to the health of the nation. Often the first port of call for advice and treatment, local pharmacies are a key part of your neighbourhood health service.  

The NPA believes that policymakers and leaders across the NHS should think more radically about the potential of this uniquely accessible asset on the health service frontline. Where else in the health service can you simply walk in off the street and get advice from a highly-qualified professional within minutes? 

With ongoing support from commissioners and further integration with the health and care sector, pharmacies can do much more to take pressure off GPs and hospitals; make access to NHS care more convenient; help people with long-term conditions; tackle medicines waste; optimise therapies; reduce health inequalities; and provide a range of diagnosis, treatment and ongoing support services. We also think that pharmacists are uniquely placed to develop a local health and social care approach for their communities. 

The ‘open-door’ approach that community pharmacy offers is a strength that needs to be capitalised on, and we are currently looking at how we can broaden the offer for certain cohorts of the population for people of working age with long-term conditions, given that access to other, appointment-based health services can be difficult for this group. 

Any sustainable solution for NHS capacity pressures must involve local pharmacies. What happens in hospitals, general practice and social care, impacts on the support provided in your local pharmacy, and vice versa.  

That is why the NPA has engaged me and my company, Conclusio, to develop a new service offering to STP areas. Given the scale of the demographic and disease challenge nationally, we believe there is an even greater need for community pharmacy to be part of local and STP solutions and step into the space that other clinical groups are leaving behind.   

We are putting in place an innovation programme across the country with the aim of demonstrating how community pharmacy can provide comprehensive care at the point of need for a range of different disease types and at different points in the pathway. 

Our aim is to provide the complete care experience for patients. As we are demonstrating through action and example what is possible, we hope this will act as both a practical guide and ‘live business case’ which local STP groupings can refer to, consider and replicate. 

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The approach will be evidenced through eight national community pharmacy-led pilots in: Sheffield;  Lincoln; Manchester; Kent; Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham; Gloucester; Cornwall; and Kingston. 

These pilot sites, led by community pharmacists with the support of the NPA, will encompass the following clinical themes: 

  • Managing complex conditions in the community (diagnostics and treatment)
  • Integrated discharge programmes for the frail and elderly
  • Community pharmacy-led GP practices
  • Prescribing pharmacists in GP practices
  • Urgent care triage and case management
  • Signposting, navigation and community support
  • Managing hypertension and Atrial Fibrillation
  • Post-discharge management and care co-ordination of diabetes 

In each area, we have a delivery network in place and are working in partnership across the multidisciplinary team to ensure we deliver new ways of working that are of a high quality, reduce demand on primary care and hospitals, and support patients to become healthy and independent. 

The programmes that launch in August are an opportunity for community pharmacy to spotlight its core and extended offer, and work in partnership with the wider health and care sector to jointly address the significant challenges being faced. 

Locally, it is clear every day the difference that effective community pharmacy makes. That is why my company is working with the NPA to evidence this on a wider regional and national scale and whilst the challenges we face across the NHS may be significant, community pharmacy is committed to tackling them head-on.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

W: www.npa.co.uk

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