Innovation and adaptability is key to the future of our healthcare service

Cormac Tobin, Managing Director of Celesio UK, including LloydsPharmacy

LloydsPharmacy has always looked for ways to innovate and revolutionise healthcare to maximise patient benefit. We strive to demonstrate what the pharmacy sector is capable of doing through our services in store and through our longstanding partnership with the NHS.

To survive and thrive, the NHS needs to change, and patients’ behaviour towards seeking healthcare services also needs to adapt as their entire healthcare requirements cannot be funnelled through GPs and hospitals. The healthcare landscape, although evolving, essentially requires collaboration between secondary and primary care providers, the Government, local MPs, external healthcare providers outside of the NHS, and ultimately patients.

This is an approach which is advocated in NHS England’s Five Year Forward View. The report highlights a need for  greater understanding that pharmacies can help the public deal with common ailments and recognises the enhanced role pharmacy can play in the future of the NHS.

The NHS is under huge pressure to meet targets and continue to provide top quality patient care; this can be seen in both primary and secondary care, from A&E patient waiting times to patients struggling to get GP appointments when they need them.

The pharmacy sector already plays a role within primary care. LloydsPharmacy has highlighted this in a number of ways; from minor ailments services in store, to Type 2 diabetes screening and blood pressure monitoring. Going beyond dispensing medicines, our passionate pharmacy teams provide valuable healthcare support and lifestyle advice that can positively influence someone’s health. It’s not just about telling someone what their blood pressure reading is, it’s about helping that person understand the factors that affect their blood pressure; smoking, weight, diet choices, so that they can be in control and better manage their own health. Pharmacy teams play a part in creating a healthier environment for their communities, but this role could be greatly increased.

The LloydsPharmacy First Care Clinic pilot at the North Manchester General Hospital is another prime example of what pharmacy and the NHS can deliver when working together and adapting to change. The Clinic provides patients with greater choice, giving those deemed appropriate by a triage nurse the chance to receive treatment from a clinically trained pharmacist within the A&E department, whilst alleviating teams in A&E to treat those patients with more complex trauma cases.

We, at LloydsPharmacy, support Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, National Medical Director of NHS England, when he recommended in his recent progress and implementation plan for the Urgent and Emergency Care Review[1], to extend the Minor Ailments scheme to all of community pharmacy. This would allow for a consistent service to be offered across the country where patients could visit pharmacies for treatment of minor ailments within a community pharmacy setting. If the service were provided nationally, the perception of what community pharmacy can deliver in the healthcare arena, and where patients should seek healthcare advice and treatment from for minor ailments, will change leading to a positive impact on the NHS, alleviating pressure and ultimately saving the NHS money which could be filtered into other areas.