Jeremy Meader

The Numark managing director Jeremy Meader has said community pharmacies would find it easier to establish themselves with sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) if they were being rolled out to a national framework.

Meader (pictured) revealed the success of Numark pharmacies in influencing STPs, the government’s way of moving care out of hospitals and into local communities, has been “very mixed” and insisted the challenge of dealing with the structures across so many silos as well as what he described as “an awful lot of bureaucracy” has seen the majority of the chain’s pharmacies struggle.

During a survey this year by Pharmacy Business in association with the PSNC, many local pharmaceutical committees reported those heading up STPs were not interested in pharmacy.

“It’s been very mixed. We would not disagree with the findings from your survey. Speaking to our members there does seem to be very mixed views. The majority I think in truth are definitely struggling,” Meader told Pharmacy Business in an exclusive interview.

“There is definitely a desire to get engaged but there’s an awful lot of bureaucracy to get through to that to end up with something that is deliverable and, critically, that the pharmacy is being remunerated for.

“At the moment we’ve got a bit of a disconnect. We’ve had this in play now since 2016. Again, it’s something you’d like to see a national framework for rather than have to deal with so many silos. That again makes it difficult. If you had national standards for these things, it would make it much easier.”

STP plans were submitted two years ago by NHS organisations and local councils for 44 areas across England, all with a focus on improving health and care services on an area-by-area basis and removing the element of competition in favour of collaboration between health bodies at a local level.

When it was suggested the government’s view might be that different parts of the country have different health agendas and priorities and a national framework would be unworkable, Meader said: “That’s absolutely right. One of the great benefits of pharmacy is a really good pharmacy is able to understand the local healthcare needs and tailor its services to that.

“But that said, whether you’re providing a service for COPD or for diabetic patients, fundamentally there should be some common standards.

“Whatever the service is, there should be a framework and a better way of doing it that would at least ensure more consistency rather then everything having to be done on an individual basis. For pharmacy, if you’ve got to deal with more than one body, it’s gets more complicated.”

When asked whose responsibility within pharmacy it was to push for a national framework for STPs, he said: “Any representative body I think has got a responsibility to push for that. There are a number of bodies that represent pharmacy interests and that’s been a challenge for as long as Numark has existed.”

Meader said Numark had “a responsibility on behalf of our members to lobby” for a national framework just as it does on a range of issues.

“We do lobby actively. If there’s a couple of papers coming out we will, more often than not, submit a view on that based on what we’ve heard from our members,” he said.

“We run a number of advisory boards across the country recognising the four nations of our membership, we will always try to put forward a view that is consistent with that of our members. In the future there has to be more lobbying.”