Now is the best time for community pharmacy to integrate its model of NHS representation and support to ensure better outcomes for contractors, said James Wood, director of Contractor & LPC Support, Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC).

It is important for the sector to adapt to the new landscape and address challenges such as workforce, digital data, integration of pharmacy services, and medicines optimisation, he said during the first session of the sixth annual Pharmacy Business Conference held online on Tuesday, September 21.

Under the new system, every part of England will be covered by integrated care systems (ICSs) from April 2022. ICSs have been created to bring about big changes in how health and care services in England are planned, paid for and delivered. They are a key part of the direction of travel for the NHS as outlined in the NHS Long Term Plan.

By 2023 they will bring together providers and commissioners of NHS services to plan health and care services to meet the needs of the local population across a geographical area.

“As a sector we need to be match ready at a local level and nationally for those changes. We’ve got to get our house in order as a sector to meet those needs,” Wood said.

Further to pursue the integration goal, the pharmacy Review Steering Group (RSG) is striving to work collaboratively and inclusively with all stakeholders and come up with proposals for the future.

“We are trying to achieve a system of community pharmacy representations board that can meet those needs. That can help set the direction community pharmacy with one vision nationally and locally,” said Wood, who is also secretary of the RSG.

This will improve the sector’s collaboration, cohesion and negotiation with the NHS both nationally and locally, he added.

Besides, contractors will have better and more consistent support to deliver innovative services and high value patient care as a core part of the NHS.

“The RSG will continue to try and build consensus, and after hearing from all parts of the sector, put forward solutions to address some of those issues and to meet the needs of the NHS in future and to support contractors in making the most of those opportunities,” he added

The group will also think about updating the roles of national and local organisations in the context of ICS and the future NHS landscape.

“Community pharmacy will need to look at its overall structure and operating model, including the network of LPCs (Local Pharmaceutical Committee) and the National PSNC body to think about how those are supported both at PCN and ICS levels,” Wood said.

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