MPs hear best practice in community pharmacy policy from the devolved nations

MPs hear best practice in community pharmacy policy from the devolved nations

November 1, 2018

The All-Party Pharmacy Group (APPG) met yesterday (31st October) to hear about how community pharmacy is developing in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and what learnings England could take from this.

The meeting was chaired by Sir Kevin Barron MP and attended by Steve Double MP (APPG Vice-Chair) and Alex Chalk MP (Parliamentary Private Secretary to Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care).

Discussion was focused around the strategies and objectives for community pharmacy in the devolved nations, plus examples of best practice from the different regions. The witnesses included: Harry McQuillan, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy Scotland; Gerard Greene, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland; and Russell Goodway, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy Wales. Simon Dukes, PSNC Chief Executive, was also in attendance as an observer.

Steve Double MP asked the negotiators what they thought the key challenges for community pharmacy were and all three representatives addressed a desire to move away from a contract modelled on dispensing. The group also heard about the challenge of moving services from pilot phases to national commissioning and why better IT integration is needed for pharmacy.

Sir Kevin Barron MP asked how pharmacies could help patients with minor ailments and long-term conditions, and the witnesses shared examples of services in their nations that were successful. MPs heard about the Common Ailments Service in Wales, where patients can access pharmacy treatment and advice for 26 conditions and Scotland’s Chronic Medication Service, a service for patients with long-term conditions, which was estimated to have dispensed 134,000 items last month.

Alex Chalk MP asked the witnesses what key message they would convey to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care about community pharmacy. Harry McQuillan stated that community pharmacy is a ‘willing partner’ and cited key areas of pharmacy integration with GP practices in Scotland as an example of how the professions can work together to produce good outcomes. Gerard Greene felt there needed to be a change in the direction of travel. He argued that primary care goes beyond general practice and highlighted how the accessibility of community pharmacies makes them ideally placed to support other primary care colleagues. Russell Goodway thought that there was not enough clarity between the Government and the community pharmacy sector, and called for a stronger, clearer vision as to where the sector might be in five years’ time.

The APPG is now working on a report based on the findings of this recent session, looking into how community pharmacy in England might be able to learn from examples within the devolved nations. Details of the report will be available on the PSNC website once it has been published.

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