The lessons from Covid crisis applied in the future through collaboration can create a better integration between GP practices, hospitals and community pharmacies, Pharmacists Defence Association (PDA) has proposed.
Stating that a more integrated healthcare system could enable pharmacists to provide effective and more efficient care to patients, the PDA proposed a model where at least two pharmacists would be working in each community pharmacy, empowered, and enabled with two-way referral pathways, having more clinical input and full access to patient records.
“Such an environment could not only help to improve communications between health professionals and increase access to services for patients, but would support the NHS to operate more effectively.”
While the report by the PDA published last week (Aug 12) requires a rethink of the contribution of community pharmacy, it believes the objectives outlined in the proposals could be achieved with right political will and support from across the sector.
The association believes that the Covid-19 pandemic not only highlighted some of the inefficiencies in the current system but also displayed the level of flexibility that can be adopted when needed.
The report from the PDA illustrates how to achieve this potential.
“With some changes having already occurred, such as the greater use of technology for virtual consultations, it is important to build upon the pandemic experience and embrace a more integrated and collaborative approach to providing health and social care.”
The report has been developed through the combined views and feedback of PDA members. Lord Philip Hunt of Kings Heath, a House of Lords health spokesperson and former minister of state at the Department of Health and Social Care was able to attend a recent meeting of external stakeholders at the House of Lords which discussed the report’s proposals and has written the foreword to the report.
Alison Jones, PDA director of policy said: “The PDA recognises that more than ever before, the NHS needs to adapt and innovate and be integrated with social care. We know that health and social care must move forward and provide high-quality care and address public health issues before they become endemic.
“We also recognise that with the right funding and structures pharmacists based in a variety of settings, including those in local communities, are best placed to carry out many functions and that is what these latest proposals set out to address.”
The report shows how, because of their expertise and accessible positioning, pharmacists can assist with the delivery of the diagnostic programme, and how they can deliver pharmaceutical care to patients previously diagnosed with long term conditions.
The proposals not only create far greater capacity in other parts of the health system, but they dramatically improve the patient’s journey.
“This level of collaboration will not happen organically; the joined-up care being advocated can only be delivered through a Community of Practice which is supported by a locally managed system. Members of the healthcare team have been working hard and the system is nearing breaking point. The breaking down of the historical silo approach to healthcare commissioning with a focus upon collaboration will enable the NHS to work smarter for the benefit of the NHS, the workforce and ultimately to the patients that we serve,” said PDA in its report.