PSNC Briefing 040/13: Parliamentary Debate on Community Pharmacy (April 2013)

PSNC Briefing 040/13: Parliamentary Debate on Community Pharmacy (April 2013)

In April 2013 Stephen Pound MP secured an adjournment debate in the House of Commons on community pharmacy.

The PSNC office was in contact with Stephen as he prepared for the debate and he was very positive about pharmacy and the extended role he believes community pharmacy can have in the reformed NHS, highlighting services such as MURs and the NMS. He also referred MPs to Sue Sharpe’s UCL School of Pharmacy Lecture, in which she set out a vision for a third pillar of the NHS with community pharmacy at its heart.

But Stephen also used the debate to raise concerns about the possibility of pharmacy services being lost in the new NHS, saying that the sheer complexity of the new commissioning arrangements could act as a barrier to the provision of services.

Health minister Norman Lamb responded to the comments. Although he was positive about pharmacy and the critical role he believes it can have in the health service, the response gave no firm commitments, but Norman did make a number of points that might be of interest to LPCs and contractors:

  • He confirmed his belief that community pharmacies have a critical role to play in an in integrated health service for patients, particularly those with chronic conditions;
  • He highlighted the expected increases in public health spending as an opportunity for pharmacy, although with the caveat that pharmacy would need to make its case for this;
  • On commissioning he was very clear that pharmacy would need to convince the new commissioners of the case for pharmacy services, saying: “The reformed commissioning environment provides new opportunities for pharmacies. If they remain passive and do not seek to make their case, they will suffer, but if they go out and make the case for the central role that they can play, for their accessibility and for the trust that the community has in them, they will be able to thrive and prosper, particularly given the focus on a new integrated care model.”
  • He highlighted the senior management role of the chief pharmaceutical officer for England within NHS England, who he said was looking at how the organisation’s regional and area teams could make use of pharmaceutical advice;
  • He defended the decision to allow CCGs to decide who should be on their governing bodies, but said he would expect pharmacy involvement in CCGs to be commonplace, “given the extent to which pharmacies are involved in people’s care”;
  • On the potential for conflicts of interest to affect commissioning decisions, he said: “The idea that members of CCGs will secure all the profitable and lucrative services for themselves is a pretty negative view, and one that I do not share, but of course we have to be vigilant… We will not allow a situation to develop where profits come before patient care or patient choice.” He stressed that governance arrangements were in place and that CCGs had received guidance, and said the General Medical Council had published updated guidance for doctors last month, including a section on financial and commercial arrangements and conflicts of interest.

The full transcript of the debate, including the minister’s response, can be viewed here.

For more information please contact Zoe Smeaton, PSNC Communications Manager.

To browse other PSNC briefings on the healthcare landscape click here.

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