Steve Anderson, group managing director of PHOENIX UK, has warmly welcomed the NICE report – Community pharmacies: promoting health and wellbeing – which was published today.
The report reinforces the critical role of community pharmacy as the third pillar in our healthcare infrastructure providing essential primary care access alongside GPs and A&E which people want, need and value.
“The report is clear: if the Government in England wants to improve healthcare outcomes through preventative care and chronic care management then community pharmacy has to be at the heart of that strategy. Scotland has already adopted that approach through its Pharmacy First and Chronic Medication services and Wales is developing its own pharmacy-led solutions.
England is lagging behind and it is increasingly hard to understand why. The NICE report clearly identifies community pharmacies as being local healthcare hubs which could and should work in partnership with GP surgeries to provide integrated healthcare with triage from one to the other: pharmacy identifying complex conditions best addressed by a GP and GPs referring those with minor conditions to their local pharmacy.
We also need to address the elephant in the room: is the pharmacy contract still fit-for-purpose in a COVID recovery period? Is there sufficient funding to keep the doors open for a network of 11,500 pharmacies in England? What role will community pharmacy play in COVID vaccinations? How do we reconfigure healthcare access to reduce the strain on GPs and hospitals as they struggle to cope with a backlog of delayed consultations and procedures?
The NICE report clearly describes the potential of community pharmacy to spearhead improved healthcare outcomes, but that will only become a reality if we can get political commitment and financial investment. The frontline role which community pharmacy played during the height of the COVID crisis demonstrated how important the network is to safeguarding the health of our nation”.