The new NHS People Plan, published today, pledges to create a sustainable supply of prescribing pharmacists with enhanced clinical and consultation skills.
NPA vice chair, Nick Kaye, said:
“Only by mobilising the entire healthcare workforce, including community pharmacists and their teams, can there be any prospect of the NHS recovering from COVID-19 and meeting the growing needs of an ageing population.
“If our potential can be realised – especially as prescribers – community pharmacists can dramatically improve access to healthcare, and relieve pressure on other parts of the NHS.
“However, further developing clinical skills will be pointless if there is no way to deploy those skills in practice. More investment is needed in NHS services that allow community pharmacists to prescribe for minor illnesses, the management of long term medical conditions and prevention, improving the patient journey and achieving system-wide efficiencies.
“The chronic underfunding of the community pharmacy contract in England has to be addressed urgently, to make any reform meaningful and beneficial to patients here.
“We need much more detail about the proposal to replace the current pre-registration year for pharmacy students with a foundation year. We will be alive to the opportunities and alert to unintended consequences as we participate in further discussions about the pharmacists of the future.”
Community pharmacists are specialists in medicines, but also have a broad training in disease and its prevention and treatment. Pharmacists currently undergo a minimum five years’ training before registering as a healthcare professional and then undergo continuing professional development throughout their careers.
Secretary of State for Health & Social Care Matt Hancock drew attention to the People Plan at a Royal College of Physicians event today. Andrew Lane and NPA chief executive Mark Lyonette were among a select group invited to attend in person.