National lung strategy calls for enhanced community pharmacy role

National lung strategy calls for enhanced community pharmacy role

December 21, 2018

A national task force bringing together groups representing people living with lung disease, health professionals, the voluntary sector and professional associations, has called for community pharmacies to have an enhanced role in helping to improve lung health.

The Taskforce for Lung Health, a membership body representing 29 organisations, has published a five-year plan setting out measures to improve lung health in England. It makes the case for a change in our nation’s approach to lung disease, making recommendations in relation to key stages of a patient’s journey, spanning from the prevention of lung disease to end of life management.

In PSNC’s response to the Taskforce’s call for evidence, we highlighted a number of ways that community pharmacy could help address priority areas.

The five-year plan identifies the need for community pharmacy teams to be included in patient pathways to ensure timely and accurate diagnoses and to be recognised as valuable healthcare professionals who can identify and support people at risk of developing lung disease or those who are already being treated.

Medicines Use Reviews (MURs) and the New Medicine Service were highlighted as ways to tackle poor inhaler technique and help ensure that medicines are having the intended effects. The report goes on to recommend that the Department of Health and Social Care lifts the annual cap on MURs and provides a better mechanism of collecting information and sharing it with GPs to ensure more people benefit from community pharmacy interventions. It notes that the cost of providing more reviews in pharmacies is balanced by savings created to the NHS as a result of people being better supported to manage their medication and general lung health.

Two case studies were included in the report to highlight the contribution that community pharmacy has already made to this agenda:

  • an evaluation submitted by PSNC of Community Pharmacy Future’s COPD case finding service, which demonstrated cost-savings to the NHS; and
  • a community pharmacy contractor in Hertfordshire who is passionate about lung health and discusses the various ways she improves patient outcomes though patient counselling, providing MURs or supporting with self-care.

Click here to read A National Five Year Plan for Lung Health

Commenting on the publication, PSNC Director of NHS Services Alastair Buxton said:

“We are very pleased to see community pharmacy being recognised as a crucial member of the healthcare team and we agree that there is a need for greater integration of community pharmacy in patient pathways.

In our response to the Taskforce’s call for evidence, we highlighted the hard work already being done by community pharmacy teams to help improve lung health, and we shared some service evaluations of locally commissioned services from Local Pharmaceutical Committees and other organisations. It is excellent to see that the Taskforce has taken on board our evidence and called for a greater use of community pharmacy teams.

Community pharmacy teams can make a greater contribution to the care of people with respiratory conditions as outlined in our national service proposals, which support many of the recommendations of the Taskforce’s five-year strategy. Through the provision of the proposed pharmacy services, patients would receive regular support to help them develop personalised care plans and to better manage their conditions”.

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