Cormac’s view: Taking time to consider the future

This week, the new minister responsible for pharmacy, David Mowat announced a delay in the funding cuts for community pharmacy, saying that he wants to take time to make sure that the right decisions are made – for the sector, for the NHS and importantly for the public.

Referring to the Community Pharmacy Forward View at the RPS conference on Monday, the Minister said that the principles of the vision were ’spot on’, and he acknowledged the fact there is a big contribution we can make in areas such as long term conditions. I believe this is a positive step to move us forward.

I know that community pharmacy is a vital asset to the NHS, especially at a time when it is facing unprecedented demands, and we need to work together to make the Forward View a reality.

The new report published today from PriceWaterhouseCooper, commissioned by PSNC, highlights the vital role that community pharmacy already delivers.  The report looks at 12 services, including public health, self-care support and medicines support services, and concludes that pharmacies made more than 150 million interventions in 2015.  From the services covered by the report, research also found that community pharmacy contributed an in-year benefit of £3 billion, and overall shows that the services delivered more benefit than they cost – with the main beneficiary being the NHS.  Looking at the report in a broader context, it is also very positive about the societal payback that the network brings to our communities through knock-on health benefits. All good evidence to support the sector in making its case for continued investment and a central role in looking after the health and wellbeing of the nation.

The Minister has alluded to a massive expansion in primary care over the next few years, with pharmacy centre stage, so it’s crucial that he recognises the considerable value, expertise and potential that the existing network of community pharmacists and their teams can deliver as part of this growth.  Of course, there is no indication as to when a decision will be made regarding our funding, but the fact that the Minister is listening, taking time to understand the profession and hearing the evidence base which supports our future potential is welcome, and shows that we need to continue to focus on a joint goal.