Clinical Commissioning Groups, Health & Wellbeing Boards and Local Authorities have a “golden opportunity” to transform healthcare delivery in England and community pharmacy has a critical role to play according to Andrew Willetts, Public Sector & Healthcare Services Director at Celesio UK.
Andrew was speaking at an event for local commissioners held in the House of Commons on 14 March. The other speakers included Public Health Minister Anna Soubry and Rosamond Roughton, Director for Commissioning Systems and Strategy at the NHS Commissioning Board.
Andrew said, “The new roles for Local Authorities, CCGs and HWBs should provide an opportunity to redesign how services are provided, create new care models and start implementing rather than simply talking about patient-centric care pathways.
Unless we are bold and innovative there is a risk that services will be commissioned more or less as they always have been and if that happens then in my view improved outcomes for patients will not be achieved”.
Andrew went on to highlight the important role which community pharmacy is currently playing in delivering public health outcomes, but was critical of current “postcode lottery provision” and described community pharmacy as, “one of the most under-utlised healthcare assets we have in our country”.
Andrew referred to successful examples of community pharmacy led smoking cessation services and alcohol interventions. In Birmingham, A Lloydspharmacy alcohol screening service engaged 14,873 people in discussions about their alcohol consumption and made 9,480 interventions – giving advice and support to people who need to take action on reducing the amount of alcohol they drink to prevent associated health problems. In addition, statistics from the Health and Social Care Information Centre show that in 2011/12, 163,211 people chose community pharmacy to set a quit date and 74,606 had successfully quit by week 4, a success rate of 46%.
He set out five ways in which community pharmacy could better support the public health agenda, improve people’s quality of life and help create a healthier nation.
“People with unhealthy lifestyles often do not consider themselves to be ill so do not seek support or advice from their GP. Community pharmacy is better placed to reach that target group.
In deprived communities you are far more likely to find a community pharmacy than a GP surgery.
If we are to identify the million plus people with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes then we need to develop the role of community pharmacy in providing screening services.
We need our GPs focused on providing support for those with complex conditions and yet over 20% of a GPs time is spent dealing with minor ailments which in most cases result in a prescription. From April England will be the only country in the UK which does not have a national minor ailments service provided in community pharmacies.
We need to let the experts in medicines – pharmacists – do the job they do best and support those on medication with long-term conditions to ensure they do not end up as an avoidable hospital admissions”.
Andrew called for a new partnership between local commissioners and community pharmacy to develop new strategies and models which are better able to meet public health objectives.