Community healthcare should be a priority

7th March 2017

Managing director Cormac Tobin gives his view on Delivering Sustainability and Transformation Plans, a report from the King’s Fund

I read with interest the new report from the King’s Fund, Delivering Sustainability and Transformation Plans, which warns of the lack of community services currently in place to deliver the proposed redesign of services, including changes to hospitals.

I echo the report’s key messages particularly that, in order for the system to efficiently manage the demand for hospital care, the focus should be on using existing services in the community more effectively. I passionately believe that building partnerships beyond organisation and professional boundaries and collaboration will be the key to the future sustainability of the NHS.

Within the 44 plans that have been published, the majority mention the role of pharmacy or pharmacists in areas such as supporting medicines optimisation, improving the public’s health and promoting the best access for those with common ailments, however most are lacking detail. All of these activities sit alongside the Community Pharmacy Forward View’s ambitions, and I would strongly encourage those that represent the sector both nationally and locally to engage in this agenda to ensure its future role and make it happen.

It is clear that there will be significant pressure on STPs to deliver both efficiency and productivity gains, and providers have a vital part to play in innovating for the future by designing solutions to meet the needs of the growing population which can be delivered in new and different ways, and building workforce capability.

For Celesio UK, community healthcare reaches beyond community pharmacy. LloydsPharmacy Clinical Homecare provides services to more than 36,000 patients in their own home, including specialist nursing for complex conditions. With proposed changes to the secondary care footprint, and services such as comprehensive oncology and haematology being available in the patients home, there is significant opportunity for transformation to be derived from existing services to support STPs.

We can do so much to support this agenda from the genius that is within our workforce and is ready to play a practical and crucial role in the future of our NHS.

As the STPs are further developed and change begins to happen locally, it is critical that all stakeholders are engaged and enabled to be part of these important conversations – patients and the public, political, public, private, voluntary, the list goes on. The answers are there, we need to work together and with purpose to deliver the best solutions which secure a sustainable future for the NHS.