Developing a long term vision for community pharmacy

Nigel Edwards, Chief Executive, Nuffield Trust

Richard Murray, Chief Executive, The King’s Fund

By Nigel Edwards, Chief Executive of the Nuffield Trust, and Richard Murray, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund

We are delighted to have been asked by PSNC to support them in the development of a long term vision for community pharmacy.

Pharmacists have long played an important role within their local communities, pre-dating the formation of the NHS. There have been several attempts over the years to broaden the role of community pharmacy and to maximise its potential as a key part of primary care. We see the development of Integrated Care Systems, and the growing interest in population health as offering a real window of opportunity to accelerate and deepen this contribution.

Community pharmacists are well placed to contribute to key policy goals including population health, prevention and demand pressures in primary care. For example, the recent Fuller Review set out the importance of connecting community pharmacy services into urgent care systems, and identified examples of ways in which pharmacists might contribute to cancer screening and early diagnosis.

But if this is to be achieved at scale across the country, rather than in local pockets, then we need to understand the blockages which have held progress back in the past, and the enablers which will need to be in place for the future. We need to think through the relationship between community pharmacists and other parts of the health and care system. We need to understand what will enable the sector to be sustainable in the long term, including the implications for workforce and other infrastructure, and we need to consider systematic business models for community pharmacists of all types, from individual independent pharmacies to large multiples.

We will only be able to consider these questions effectively by talking to the people who work closely in and with community pharmacy, including the people who use community pharmacy services. Over the next few months, we will be talking to a wide range of stakeholders – including but not limited to patients, pharmacists, commissioners and policymakers. We will also be drawing on international experience, and other research which has already been undertaken, including the work The King’s Fund is currently leading with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society on a broader vision for pharmacy practice in England.

We look forward to these conversations, and to sharing our findings in a report which will focus not just on recommendations for areas of action but also on the enablers for successful change.

Further information about this project is available on the Nuffield Trust website.