Leading health think tanks set out vision for pharmacies

Nuffield Trust and The King’s Fund have today published ‘A Vision for Community Pharmacy’, setting out how community pharmacies’ role in healthcare could be expanded over the next decade, with the right investment and support.

In their Vision, the think tanks describe a transformation of the community pharmacy sector, focusing on how pharmacies can help to address key policy goals around population health, prevention and the increasing demand in primary care. They also explore the barriers to achieving this vision, and the enablers which will help make progress towards it.

The independent report, commissioned by Community Pharmacy England, follows almost a year’s worth of research and consultation with the sector and wider stakeholders and advocates for community pharmacy.

It sets out how the pharmacies of tomorrow will be thriving businesses, continuing with their core role as a key part of the medicines supply chain, while broadening the range of contracted and funded activities they undertake. Pharmacy teams will make best use of their professional skills, working ever more closely with colleagues across local healthcare networks.

Nuffield Trust and The King’s Fund have also identified a range of actions needed to achieve their vision, central to these are a sustainable funding package and active engagement with other parts of the health service.

Read A Vision for Community Pharmacy

Read the literature review

Further information is available on the Nuffield Trust website.

Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy England, said:

“This independent vision for community pharmacy lands at a pivotal moment as we look to conclude negotiations on the £645m investment in community pharmacy and prepare for discussions on what comes after April 2024. With community pharmacies in crisis, the sector needs to influence more effectively than ever before and working with a wide range of partners who also have influence in Government and the NHS – like these two leading think tanks – is an absolute must.

For some pharmacies this vision will not feel bold enough. For others, achieving the services set out will feel like a pipedream. Many of you will rightly wonder whether the many barriers and obstacles that Nuffield Trust and The King’s Fund have identified to achieving this future can be overcome. But in this vision the think tanks have sought to balance the full spectrum of pharmacy’s views, positioning the sector as the solution that it is, while also describing what needs to happen to help pharmacies thrive. Independent experts setting a clear direction like this will be a very powerful tool for us.

We support the direction of travel that has been set out in the report and hope the sector will come behind this. The blueprint will help us to encourage policymakers to think differently about what the pharmacies of tomorrow could look like and how we can make them a reality. It will help us in our goals to show this and any future Governments, as well as the NHS, the value of all that pharmacies do, to demonstrate the intense pressures that you are under, to warn them of the consequences if they do not assist, but also to present solutions to their problems that they will be willing to invest in.

Thank you to everyone who has been involved in the creation of this report – the writers and researchers at Nuffield Trust and The King’s Fund; all members of their Steering Group and Advisory Panel; and all those who were interviewed or contributed ideas, reactions and challenge in other ways. Community Pharmacy England has already commenced discussions on our strategy to build on this vision, with public affairs work already underway. Delivering elements of this vision and safeguarding pharmacy’s future will require action from local and national NHS commissioners, as well as Government, and from all in community pharmacy: failure is not an option.”

Next Steps

Community Pharmacy England will consider and build on the report’s recommendations as part of our strategic work to improve the future direction of community pharmacy. This is vital as negotiations on the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) after the end of the five-year deal approach, and developing such a strategy was a key recommendation from the Pharmacy Representation Review Steering Group (RSG).

By providing an independent, expert opinion on community pharmacy’s potential – from two of the most influential think tanks in the healthcare world – the Vision helps to raise awareness of the continued pressures on the sector whilst also showing what pharmacies could be doing for their communities. It provides yet more powerful evidence as we work to persuade policymakers to help us to ensure the sustainability and success of community pharmacy.

The Vision will be particularly useful in helping initiate further and important policy discussions with national and local commissioners and, with the support of LPCs, we hope to come together with national and local healthcare systems to take some of this work forward.

Engaging Government, the NHS and wider stakeholders on taking forward elements of the Vision will form a key part of Community Pharmacy England’s influencing work in the coming months and we’ll be using the #PharmaciesOfTomorrow hashtag to highlight this.

The Vision has already attracted attention in Parliament being mentioned in a debate last week, and today we will host a reception for the Vision in Parliament – being attended by MPs, NHS policy leads, health charities and patient representatives. This influencing work will continue with events at the political party conferences and a series of policy roundtables with relevant stakeholders. We’ll also be supporting LPCs to engage with leaders of Integrated Care Systems (ICS).

Resources

We want to facilitate conversations on the way ahead to increase the number of advocates for the sector. You can get behind our campaign by using the resources below when talking or writing to your local MPs, ICS leaders, or patient groups. Please use #PharmaciesOfTomorrow on social media.

Briefing: Community Pharmacies: A Vision
A summary of the Vision report and Community Pharmacy England’s action plan.

Animations describing the detail of the Vision report what happens next:

Infographics outlining what the pharmacies of the future may look like:

For further information, please see our Vision webpage.

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