Integrating NHS pharmacy and medicines optimisation into STPs and ICS

Integrating NHS pharmacy and medicines optimisation into STPs and ICS

In August 2018, NHS England and NHS Improvement announced the launch of a new programme, supported by the Pharmacy Integration Fund, to test how NHS pharmacy and medicines optimisation/safety can be integrated into Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STP) and Integrated Care Systems (ICS) .

The Integrating NHS Pharmacy and Medicines Optimisation (IPMO) programme aimed to develop a framework which set out how to systematically tackle the medicines optimisation priorities for the local population in an STP/ICS footprint and use the expertise of pharmacy professionals in the strategic transformation of systems in order to deliver the best patient outcomes from medicines and value to the taxpayer.

A briefing was published which describes the approach for ‘testing’ the principles of framework for NHS pharmacy and medicines integration within the pilot areas.

Programme objectives

For 2018/19, the programme sought to “test and confirm” the principles of the framework to integrate pharmacy and medicines optimisation into STP/ICSs and primary care network level. In order to do this, NHS England and NHS Improvement identified one pilot STP or ICS in each of the seven NHS regions to operationalise the principles and address key questions, to act as case studies for future roll-out.

The objectives of the programme were:

  • To develop and test a core set of principles that set out how NHS pharmacy and medicines optimisation can be best integrated into STPs and ICSs;
  • To define the functions of leadership for NHS pharmacy and medicines that should be undertaken at system level and describe how these would be delivered;
  • To ensure visible professional expertise and leadership in NHS pharmacy and medicines at system level;
  • To identify and accelerate strategies to achieve medicines optimisation at scale to improve patient outcomes and value for money across primary and secondary care;
  • To explore the approach to developing an integrated, flexible, clinical pharmacy workforce that can deliver high quality and sustainable medicines optimisation at scale, across a local system; and
  • To inform the national priorities on how best to support systems in unblocking the barriers that will increase opportunities for effective medicines optimisation in STPs/ICSs.

Pilot regions

The seven pilot regions were:

  1. Black Country STP (Midlands);
  2. Cumbria and North East STP (North East);
  3. Dorset ICS (South West);
  4. Hertfordshire & West Essex STP (Central & East);
  5. Lancashire & South Cumbria ICS (North West);
  6. South East London STP (London); and
  7. Surrey Heartlands ICS (South East)

Pilot STP/ICS areas had to agree to:

  • identify a dedicated senior NHS pharmacy and medicines optimisation programme manager who would facilitate the necessary processes on an STP/ICS level to deliver the outputs required;
  • establish an NHS pharmacy and medicines optimisation leadership groups (with appropriate time and recourse) that reported into the STP/ICS structure and had board level sponsorship;
  • demonstrate the process for identifying a professional lead for pharmacy and medicines, ideally already working at clinical director level;
  • develop and implement an NHS Pharmacy and Medicines Optimisation Transformation Plan addressing key national and local priorities ensuring it was fully integrated into wider STP/ICS plans; and
  • involve stakeholders.

Rollout of pharmacy and medicines optimisation system leadership

In September 2020, NHS England and NHS Improvement published Leading integrated pharmacy and medicines optimisation – Guidance for ICSs and STPs on transformation and improvement opportunities to benefit patients through integrated pharmacy and medicines optimisation via the Future NHS platform (login required).

This document sets the future direction for system leadership for pharmacy and it summarises the learning from the IPMO pilots. The following PSNC Briefing is aimed at Local Pharmaceutical Committee (LPC) members and officers and it highlights the key points in the NHSE&I document relevant to community pharmacy and suggests actions which LPCs may want to take.

PSNC Briefing 034/20 IPMO guidance and the development of system leadership



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