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David Webb pledges ‘wholehearted support’ for community pharmacy at NPA board meeting

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England’s chief pharmaceutical officer (CPhO) David Webb has promised his “wholehearted support” for the community pharmacy sector at the board meeting of the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) on 28 June in St Albans.

After hearing the CPhO at the meeting, NPA chair, Andrew Lane, later declared: “David is someone we can do business with.”

Webb thus listed his priorities as head of profession: integration of independent prescribing as part of pharmacy practice by 2026; promotion of inclusive pharmacy practice for all pharmacy professionals; assurance of post-registration practice; developing the role of pharmacy technicians; support for Integrated Care Systems and Primary Care Network pharmacy teams (including community pharmacy); medicines optimization; and strengthening of professional leadership for community pharmacy.

He also reported that NHS England had recently increased its team of regional pharmacy integration leads from seven to 14, creating seven new senior posts.

Webb told NPA board members: “I want sincerely to thank community pharmacy teams for everything they are doing and to say that you have my wholehearted support. I believe in the importance of community pharmacy and will listen and engage as I’ve already demonstrated.

“Community pharmacy has emphatically shown it is a part of the NHS team, delivering on the NHS Long Term Plan priorities and supporting the NHS to deliver throughout the pandemic and beyond.

“Due to the success of existing clinical services, community pharmacy colleagues are a key part of the overall direction of travel for clinical pharmacy practice integrated into ICSs and PCNs for the future.

“We are at a pivotal moment and there are real opportunities on the horizon”.

Pointing to the initial implementation of a number of new NHS community pharmacy services, he said: “I want to congratulate community pharmacists and their teams across England for their willingness to innovate and join with us on this exciting clinical journey.”

He added: “ICSs give us the potential to form partnerships to deliver integrated services across larger populations using population health management approaches and much more besides.

“This will provide a myriad of opportunities to use the skills of pharmacy professionals more, including the use of independent prescribing.

“I can envisage a time when pharmacists will help to manage long-term conditions within Integrated Care Systems pathways of care”.

Andrew Lane said: “This is the first visit of a Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for England to an NPA board meeting for many years, and it was a very warm and constructive exchange. David certainly appears to be someone we can do business with. We take him at his word that he wants to go on a journey with us into a sustainable, clinical future.

“It’s notable that a role for community pharmacy in helping to manage long term conditions is again being talked about at this level. Alongside urgent care and prevention, that gives the feel of a more rounded community pharmacy offer which makes full use of our clinical skill set.”

In a related development, David Webb last week (July 1) announced the appointment of two more community pharmacists to the UK Commission on Pharmacy Professional Leadership, following requests by the NPA and others. The commission is being established to make recommendations for the purpose and functions of future pharmacy professional leadership in the UK.

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