pharmacy first
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he leaves Downing Street with Downing Street Chief of Staff Steve Barclay, to go to Prime Minister's Questions session, in London, Britain, June 8, 2022. REUTERS/Toby Melville

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and National Pharmacy Association (NPA) have both urged the new health secretary Steve Barclay to back the ‘pharmacy first’ approach in England as mentioned by his predecessor on numerous occasions.

“Sajid Javid recognised the vital role of community pharmacy and the potential of a ‘Pharmacy First’ to support patient access to care. I would urge the new Health Secretary to see this through to completion,” said chair of RPS in England Thorrun Govind.

Thorrun hopes the new health secretary will engage with pharmacy leaders about how we can make the most of our health and care workforce to support the NHS recovery, including reducing health inequalities, managing the growing cost of long-term conditions, and utilising the enhanced skills of Pharmacist Independent Prescribers.

Commenting on the new appointment, she said: “This is a crucial time for the future of health and care – with continued pressures on teams, changes to NHS structures and organisations, and the need for long-term investment in the workforce.

“With a ‘refresh’ of the NHS Long-Term Plan and the Government’s workforce plan expected later this year, these must support a more ambitious approach to advancing the clinical role of pharmacists across the NHS to better meet changing patient demand, backed by investment in pharmacy education and training.

“The success of the Covid-19 vaccination programme showed just how important it is to allow clinicians to update records wherever they may work. If we are to make the most of the whole of our health and care workforce, the Government and NHS must deliver the roll-out of read-write access to patient records across care settings.

“With new Integrated Care Systems and a new approach to primary care commissioning, how these reforms are implemented on the ground must minimize disruption on our health and care staff who are already under pressure.”

Likewise, NPA director of corporate affairs Gareth Jones said: “The same logic that led the previous Health Secretary to announce recently his support for a ‘pharmacy first’ approach to primary care still applies today. Community pharmacy remains well positioned, given the right investment, to support the NHS recovery and take on clinical roles in urgent care, long-term conditions, medicines optimisation and prevention.

“The NPA will of course be in contact with Steve Barclay to offer the hand of partnership for improving access, addressing health inequalities and delivering excellent patient care.

“We maintained a close and constructive dialogue with Sajid Javid and we hope that will continue with his successor.”

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