Community Pharmacy is already playing a role within primary care

Cormac Tobin, Managing Director at Celesio UK, including LloydsPharmacy

It was recently reported that Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, believes the oversupply of new pharmacists could play a wider role in primary care and be a huge opportunity in alleviating the current burden faced by GPs.

I welcome his recognition of the role pharmacists can play but truly believe that Community Pharmacy, not just pharmacists, is the key to alleviating this burden. Treating patients directly within their communities is at the very heart of what Community Pharmacy already offers, and if capitalised upon through a national strategic framework for the industry, could make an extremely positive impact within primary care.

At LloydsPharmacy we recently launched the LloydsPharmacy First Care Clinic, a pioneering pharmacist-led clinic within an A&E department. We clinically trained our pharmacists so they were able to treat a number of minor injuries and common ailments that presented at A&E. The First Care Clinic was based on a trial we undertook within three of our LloydsPharmacy Community Pharmacy stores, and though providing us with a platform to understand how pharmacy can play a greater role within the NHS, is also an education piece highlighting to patients that they can be treated safely and efficiently within the community at an existing source.

As health needs change the role of the pharmacist is also changing; we at LloydsPharmacy champion these changes. In the future pharmacists will be delivering a more service-led model, which can be supported by the rest of the community pharmacy team. We therefore must further develop the workforce and secure the right skills mix in pharmacy graduates to support the evolving role of Community Pharmacy; attract those who are passionate about what the pharmacy sector can deliver, and break from the conventional mould of community pharmacy.

At LloydsPharmacy we actively encourage our pharmacists and their teams to engage with their communities and other local healthcare professionals. Through the support of LloydsPharmacy, our pharmacies offer extra services tailored to the local healthcare needs, providing the pharmacists and their teams with clear career development and progression opportunities, expanding their knowledge and elevating their role as a healthcare professional.

Community Pharmacy also provides benefits to both the patients and local GPs; patients are exposed to innovative models of care, and GPs can trust that the pharmacists are supported by training and development through LloydsPharmacy without having to take on this extra burden themselves.

We welcome Simon Stevens’ acknowledgement of pharmacists playing a bigger role in the NHS, but believe Community Pharmacy is ideally placed to play this role; at LloydsPharmacy we are initiating the evolution.