I liked the urgent and emergency care report, have submitted comments, written blogs and even spoke about it at the NHS Alliance conference last year. There is one key diagram that shows the need to encourage patients to receive urgent and emergency care closer to home, through self care, telephone triage and community pharmacy and to avoid increasing the pressure on GPs, OOH services and A&E which is already full to bursting even though half of the patients could be managed elsewhere in the system.
It is so very disappointing that the NHS Alliance are not represented on the list of group members – Mark Spencer should be there! It is also a great disappointment not to see the Royal Pharmaceutical Society or a group representing pharmacists in the list. Forgotten or ignored again with the other primary care contractor services.
So just to be clear about the potential within the pharmacy profession and the ridiculous state of affairs leaving pharmacist to comment from the periphery.
• Community Pharmacists see more people for health associated reasons than any other healthcare professional. Actually if you listen to Stephen Dorrell – more than all other healthcare professionals added together!
• Community pharmacies are on the high street, in shopping complexes – where people go.
• There are a thousand community pharmacies open 100 hours a week and lots more open 80 hours a week – often as part of their existing contracts.
• Community pharmacists have been managing minor ailment schemes / common conditions for hundreds of years and some areas have developed that into advanced services, but commissioning is variable and in need of a national framework and local implementation support.
• Community Pharmacists in areas such as North East London have been working on innovative and exciting ‘self-care pharmacy’ programs
• The first training course for pharmacists on the management of Minor Injury has taken place.
• Pharmacists are providing acute care services within hospital A&Es, GP out of hour’s services, General Practice and in Community Pharmacy.
Surely a joined up service is required to provide a long term solution to the problem? Surely pharmacists are important players in delivering the change.