Our CEO Toby Anderson responds to the NHS Long-Term Implementation Framework and talks about the role that McKesson and community pharmacy can play in delivering the Ten-Year plan.
Last week’s publication of the NHS Long-Term Plan Implementation Framework provides welcome clarity on the delivery of the health system’s ambitions over the next 10 years. As we face a fundamental shift in the UK’s care model – from reactive treatment to the prevention of ill health – it is important that the NHS reflects the changing needs and expectations of patients, by investing in more community-based services and new digital platforms.
Like in other areas of society, patients now expect more flexible and innovative services that reflect their changing lifestyles and attitudes. People no longer want to accept the constraints of an appointment on a set date and time, and increasingly want to receive care at locations convenient to them. This is particularly important for deprived communities who access healthcare less frequently, and whose outcomes can be improved by accessible community care.
This is why McKesson is working to extend support to patients when and where they need it at a time suitable to them. Within their own homes, on the high street – through community pharmacy – or in hospital, we are already helping to meet the ambitions of the Long-Term Plan Implementation Framework. For instance, through our investment in Healthcare Centres we are at the forefront of helping the NHS move care closer to home, by enabling patients to receive their cancer treatment in the comfort of their local pharmacy by trained nurses.
Indeed, our success in the early identification, management and treatment of diabetes alone has played an important role in reducing health inequalities, relieving pressure on general practice and A&E, in addition to helping patients manage long-term conditions. This includes screening more than two million people for Type 2 diabetes and providing foot check advice to more than 30,000 people in the first two weeks of opening our service. We are also very proud of our collaboration with the South Asian Foundation and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain to deliver advice to diabetic patients to fast safely during Ramadan.
Despite the announcement of a national Prevention Programme, more must be done to orient the NHS toward prevention and the long-term management of chronic conditions to keep the NHS sustainable long into to the future. Community pharmacy presents a clear opportunity to prevent ill health and keep people out of hospital for as long as possible.
Similarly, the NHS should look to fully embrace the benefits of new digital innovations. We are investing heavily in this area and – through the wealth of patient insights derived from our online platforms – we also know what patients really want from their care. An example from our Online Doctor service shows that the morning after pill is one of the most popular private prescriptions, with the vast majority of customers choosing click and collect at a LloydsPharmacy. This illustrates that although this is a very private and personal service, convenience is of utmost importance to patients.
However, as the NHS continues to achieve the Long-Term Plan’s ambition of a “Digital First” NHS, we need to remain cognisant of the challenge that some people face when accessing healthcare through digital platforms. That is why at McKesson we adopt an omnichannel approach to healthcare, which ensures that our online services are supported by a physical presence on the high street, something that the Care Quality Commission identified as a significant strength.
As the NHS looks to implement the recommendations of the Long-Term Plan, it is important that we now prioritise what patients want: more flexible healthcare in a setting convenient to them. Through our extensive range of services and collaborations, McKesson stands ready to work in partnership to help the NHS achieve this mission.