Pharmacy Business Conference 2018 was themed around digital technology

On Thursday, 26 September 2019, the day of the prestigious Pharmacy Business Awards & Dinner event, Pharmacy Business magazine will be holding its fourth annual conference at the same venue in London.

The conference brings together award winning community pharmacists and stakeholders to showcase how pharmacy can make a difference to people’s health and lives and create a sustainable future by adapting to the evolving needs of the consumers and commissioners of our services.

In our July edition, we highlighted the key elements of the NHS Long Term Plan and what this means for community pharmacy owners and their teams. In this article, we will focus on the first steps that all pharmacies must take to ensure that they have a role in the future of an integrated health care system at a local level.

Health is Local

Whilst it is called a National Health Service, healthcare delivery is increasing locally driven and the NHS Long Term Plan is increasing the local element of commissioning and delivery. Engaging with and being integrated in the new Primary Care Networks (PCNs) is a critical element of a business strategy for community pharmacy to create a sustainable future. Since the 1st of July this year PCNs have been forming and establishing their base network and, from April 2020, these networks must include other providers of health and care services.

Too frequently and for too long, we have operated in a silo outside of the core primary healthcare and public health provision; this is not good for the population, the NHS nor pharmacy. Integration is a key focus for the NHS plan and those who establish effective professional relationships with other health and care providers and local commissioners will benefit from doing so.

This requires a good understanding of local needs and priorities, knowing who to engage with, and developing relationships to build trust. Independent pharmacies are well placed to do this as they often have some established relationships; however, these are often operational, not always founded the clinical care of patients or health inequalities of the local population.

Not only have we historically operated in a silo from other healthcare providers, we have not always collaborated with our pharmacy colleagues in our community. In fact, we have competed rather than collaborated, understandable given the current contractual funding system. Working with others to defi ne what needs to be done now and over the coming months and who is going to do what, a concept some have termed co-opetition.

Clinical Directors and business managers of PCNs and local commissioners do not want multiple meetings with community pharmacy contractor representatives, they want to hear one voice, pharmacy’s voice. LPCs have not got the capacity to meet with every PCN, some have 40 or more on their patch. So we need champions and leaders to represent community pharmacy at the PCN level; people who have the right knowledge and skills to engage and infl uence the integration and commissioning agenda.

Steps to take:

  • Talk to your LPC to see what they are doing
  • Establish which PCN you are in and who the key people are
  • Work with other pharmacies within your PCN area
  • Agree who is best placed to be your localPCN leader
  • Ensure you develop the right knowledge and skills to engage, ask the right questions to understand needs and priorities, and influence a future which embeds community pharmacy in the local integrated care system

Having established relationships and understood the unmet needs, learn how to sell-in pharmacy services to help address them.

This will take time, patient persistence, trust and often, a new set of skills. In this development year for the new NHS plan, the time is right to start this process. Waiting until 2020/21 and beyond is too late and no-one is going to hand it to pharmacy on a plate . The door is open, it is for pharmacy to walk through it and embrace and create the opportunities before it closes.

Alongside developing the NHS opportunities, pharmacy will need to build its capability to deliver private care to its local population based on identifi ed need for services and self care. This we will also hear about at the conference.

Why attend?

At the conference you will hear from the NHS what they want from community pharmacy within an integrated health and care system. Owners of independent pharmacies will share with you their journey in building a sustainable business. Our stakeholder panel will reflect on the key elements of the day and your questions. Make sure you are there to hear, participate and learn from your peers, then go back and build your own plan of action.

For more information on the speakers and topics go to or website: (www.pharmacybusinessconference.co.uk/)

Mike Holden, Principal Associate at Pharmacy Complete, will be chairing the Pharmacy Business Conference 2019

This article – Part II of a three-part series – also appears in the August issue of Pharmacy Business.

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