Hemant Patel, the secretary of North East London LPC, grimly predicted the last community pharmacy in his area will close by December 31, 2025 under the current model and warned pharmacists to find out how sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) are playing out in their locality.

In typically frank fashion, Patel (pictured) told the Sigma conference in Borneo that pharmacy “for the last 17, 18 years” had been preoccupied with medicines and “forgotten about what is happening in the rest of the healthcare system.” He added that pharmacy knew “nothing about community services.”

“If the current model of community pharmacy carries on, then on 31st of December 2025 the last community pharmacy in our area will close. The current model is unsustainable,” he said.

“Some of the things we have been told are a pack of lies and it’s important that we see the truth. The NHS is not running out of money. If you look at NHS spending in the last 10 years, each year spending in health has gone up. Social care costs are going gone up but it needs to be managed differently and the strategy that is being developed is not working.”

STPs are five-year plans covering a range of themes, from prevention and primary care to specialised services in hospitals. They are the government’s way of moving care out of hospitals and into the community, with 44 areas identified as geographical footprints on which the plans are based.

“I believe the national health system is being divided into 44 local health services and each health system will deliver care differently and they have made it abundantly clear to everyone that’s the way they are going to move forward,” Patel said.

He added: “(STPs) are really important organisations. This is not reorganisation. This is a serious re-engineering of responsibility and new roles will be developed. There is quite a lot of virgin territory not occupied at present and we have an opportunity to grab that.

“We need to find out at a local level how to influence strategy. How do you develop systems that are linked up in the rest of the area?”