Community pharmacy should be involved in key decisions in neighbourhoods and systems to help reduce workload and increase patient access, a meeting of senior NHS officials and primary care providers including the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) concluded.

The Fuller Stocktake: Community Pharmacy Roundtable report published by the NPA today, is based on a meeting hosted by the association on behalf of the NHS team running a key review of primary care integration, the so-called ‘Fuller Stocktake’. The roundtable was chaired by Karen Higgins, Assistant Director at the NHS Confederation.

One of the NHSE officials told participants at the meeting, held on 14 March: “You shouldn’t have to fight your way into the right conversations and the right tables to sit around to influence decision making and for the wider NHS to really leverage your considerable skills and expertise…We don’t want to leave it to chance that community pharmacy is in the right conversations. If that was the case, then I would consider the [Fuller] work to have failed.”

The discussions in the roundtable ranged across prevention, urgent and complex care. Broad recommendations to Integrated Care Systems included:

  • Work at scale to best target and serve patients and make every contact count
  • Ensure true parity between the pharmacy sector, wider primary care and across the system
  • Support and remunerate the training and development of community pharmacists / pharmacy leaders
  • Recognise the critical enablers of data, digital, training & education, and leadership opportunities
  • Keep community pharmacy involved in future decisions and planning at system level

The NPA will send the report to Local Pharmaceutical Committees (LPCs) and other local pharmacy leaders, as a tool to help them engage with Integrated Care Systems.

NPA Integration Lead, Michael Lennox, said: “The NPA recognises the critical importance of our LPC network colleagues being there for contractors at the 42 local systems level and influencing to fulfil the laudable ambitions of the Fuller Report.  We ensured that community pharmacy voices were heard in the stocktake process, and now that conversation needs to be amplified locally.”

Weeks after the NPA roundtable, the Fuller Stocktake into primary care integration was published (26 May) by NHS England and NHS Improvement. It calls for integrated neighbourhood ‘teams of teams’ to evolve from Primary Care Networks and highlights roles for community pharmacy in urgent care and prevention including early diagnosis of cancers.