Pharmacy Voice has published its final response to the Government’s consultation on plans to cut funding for community pharmacy services from October 2016, and to push through changes in the way medicines are supplied to patients.
In the letter sent to Dr Keith Ridge, Pharmacy Voice argues that an imposed cut to the global sum from October this year is not the right way to deliver efficiencies, and that the timetable for the Government to make decisions and the sector to respond to the outcome of the consultation, is now unacceptably tight. What is needed instead is a co-ordinated approach to planning investment and implementing change over time, established in partnership with community pharmacy.
Highlighting the concerns that have been raised during the consultation by a wide range of national and local organisations representing patients, professionals, service commissioners and other providers, the response notes how the Government’s proposals have been met by the sector with resistance and disbelief: “We fail to understand how a Government which expresses fervent support for community pharmacy as a partner in developing solutions to a number of the challenges facing the NHS, cannot recognise what community pharmacy teams already do day in, day out, in support of patients and the public. What is more, the Government fails to acknowledge that many other parts of the system need to change to enable community pharmacy to make its full contribution.”
The letter goes on to express disappointment that the opportunity to involve a wide range of organisations in developing more sustainable and acceptable approaches to change was not ultimately taken, stating that “there has been very limited feedback or proper discussion on how the Government’s thinking has been informed by the submissions we and others have made”.
In the response Pharmacy Voice refers to the work it is leading in partnership with the PSNC and with input from local community pharmacy leaders and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, on the Community Pharmacy Forward View. This document, which has been developed over the last few months, sets out a shared view from the organisations working at a national level representing community pharmacy owners, contractors and leaders, of what the sector wants to achieve and how it believes it can contribute to the high performing health and care system described in the Five Year Forward View for the NHS.
Commenting on the status of this project Pharmacy Voice Chief Executive Rob Darracott explains:
“Pharmacy Voice first outlined its ambition for the sector in our 2011 Blueprint for Better Health. In this final submission to the recent consultation we have included our initial ideas for updating that ambition and vision in light of the opportunities and challenges that the health and care system now faces, within a draft paper setting out the ‘Community Pharmacy Forward View’. There are two important features to this update. First, we are very pleased to say that the document is being developed in partnership between Pharmacy Voice and the PSNC, with input from local community pharmacy leaders and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. Secondly, as well as setting out our shared aspirations we are also discussing what needs to happen to ensure they are realised. This includes outlining actions the sector itself must take, but just as importantly what support we need from the Government, NHS and other partners in doing so.
“The Community Pharmacy Forward View will be published to the sector and our partners for comment, debate and further development shortly. Throughout the process that has played out since 17th December 2015, we have repeatedly stated our commitment to working in partnership with the Department of Health and NHS England to design a shared plan to release the potential of the sector. In submitting our ideas for the future we have reinforced the seriousness of our intent and the potential in our offer, as well as our desire to work constructively and collaboratively with other sector bodies at a national and local level. We call on the Government and national NHS bodies to respond in kind: to commit to working with Pharmacy Voice and other sector bodies to develop a clear and shared vision for the future role of community pharmacy within an integrated health and care system, and to invest in the implementation of a plan that genuinely places community pharmacy at the heart of the NHS.”
The full letter can be read here: Final PV Response