News, Primary Care

New report from PPP calls for a pharmacy-led transformation of health and care

Pharmacy led transformation

PPP’s report stresses the need to support and empower the pharmacy sector and align its priorities with system-level health and care objectives.

A new report from PPP calls on integrated care systems (ICSs) to harness the unique capabilities of the pharmacy sector and implement a pharmacy-led transformation of health and care delivery. The report was launched at PPP’s ICS Delivery Forum event in London on Wednesday 1st of November 2023.

The report, Driving true value from medicines and pharmacy, is chaired by Yousaf Ahmad, ICS Chief Pharmacist and Director of Medicines Optimisation at Frimley Health and Care Integrated Care System, and is the culmination of three roundtable events attended by key stakeholders from across the pharmacy sector and ICS leadership. Insight from these roundtables has also been accepted as evidence in the Health and Care Select Committee’s recent inquiry into the future of the pharmacy sector.

Emphasising the connectedness of pharmacy and local communities, the report calls for the value of pharmacy to be recognised beyond its potential to produce financial savings, and emphasises the need to leverage its diverse workforce, locally situated premises and unique patient knowledge in the delivery of system-level priorities.

It also concludes that the pharmacy profession must better articulate its value to constituent parts of ICSs, and that they require support to develop their voice, vision and leadership to meaningfully contribute to the delivery of integrated care. The report suggests that to enable this, primary care network (PCN) leadership must become more diverse to include the representation of pharmacy, and that pharmacy ambassadors should be expanded upon to provide inspiration to new recruits.

The report recommends that the NHS undertake regular regional reviews of the impact of the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme, so as to ensure that the local pharmacy workforce is not unnecessarily depleted while ensuring effective support for general practice. The report also calls for ICSs to establish more effective pharmacy leadership development programmes to enhance the sector’s influence at system level.

The report outlines major barriers to the progression of the pharmacy sector, including workforce pressures, outdated IT infrastructure and contractual mechanisms that hamper efforts at major reform. Although noting that the government has set out to address issues around workforce and digital maturity via the NHS Long Term Plan and the Delivery Plan for Recovering Access to Primary Care, it argues that ICSs have the power to go further by shifting to integrated, outcomes-focused contractual models. These, the report says, would enable the community pharmacy sector to focus on improving health outcomes and addressing health inequalities in partnership with wider primary care service provision.

Left to right: Ursula Montgomery, Michael Lennox, David Tamby Rajah, Yousaf Ahmad.

Driving true value from medicines and pharmacy has been published in the week after the government published its response to the Health and Social Care Committee’s expert panel on the evaluation of the government’s commitments to pharmacy in England. In its response, the government didn’t recognise the expert panel’s overall rating of ‘requires improvement’ as being reflective of progress to date, but stressed its commitment to enabling pharmacy to maintain a central role in the NHS.

Report chair Yousaf Ahmad, ICS Chief Pharmacist and Director of Medicines Optimisation, Frimley Health and Care Integrated Care System, said: “This report underscores the critical linkage between medicines optimisation and integrated care. While cost savings are a compelling aspect of effective medicines optimisation and of pharmacy, the true value of medicines and the pharmacy team encompasses the entirety of health and care delivery.”

The National Pharmacy Association’s (NPA) Local Integration Lead, Michael Lennox, said: “As one of the stakeholders involved in the development of this report, the NPA welcomes its publication.

“You can draw a straight line from key NHS reports like Fuller and Hewitt to this excellent new document about engaging community pharmacy in integrated care systems,” Mr Lennox said. “The NPA has been involved in all of these strategically significant reports and our recently published prospectus for future services features prominently in this latest document.

“This report has some useful recommendations for NHS England, including that the impact of the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme is placed under constant review for each region, ensuring that the local community pharmacy workforce is not unnecessarily depleted. There are challenges for pharmacy leaders too, for example, the need to focus on improving health outcomes in partnership with the wider primary care team.”

David Tamby Rajah, Pharmacy Consultant, Community Pharmacy South West London, said: “This report reiterates the key role pharmacy can play in the newly introduced ICSs, the importance of successfully integrating community pharmacy, and the value of pharmacy to the NHS Primary care recovery plan, medicines optimisation, and their connection to local communities.

“The importance of population health management to pharmacy is highlighted as we plan for the future. This is the right time for all pharmacy sectors to have a joined-up conversation and seek further collaboration to support the challenges the NHS now faces.”

The full report can be downloaded here.