Britain's Queen Elizabeth looks on ahead of her speech in the House of Lord's Chamber during the State Opening of Parliament in London, Britain May 11, 2021. Chris Jackson/Pool via REUTERS

Queen Elizabeth II outlined her government’s post-pandemic legislative agenda as she opened a new session of the UK parliament on Tuesday (May 11), in her first public appearance since the funeral of her late husband Prince Philip.

“My government’s priority is to deliver a national recovery from the pandemic that makes the United Kingdom stronger, healthier and more prosperous that before,” the 95-year-old monarch said, addressing members of the upper chamber of parliament from the throne in the House of Lords.

Greater collaboration: RPS

Commenting on the Queen’s Speech, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in England, Claire Anderson, said: “Health leaders have long called for greater collaboration to improve the well-being of local communities, but legislation alone will not guarantee success.

“How these changes are implemented on the ground will be key and there are still a number of questions on issues such as leadership and governance, clinical and patient engagement, and the scale of future changes to commissioning.”

“We welcomed the commitment from the Government’s White Paper to work with the health and care system in developing this implementation programme. If we are to learn the lessons from Covid-19 and truly build back better with innovative approaches to patient care, pharmacy must be included alongside other partners.”

Anderson added, however, that implementing the programme should not add “further disruption” on to health and care staff who have already been “strained” from the global pandemic.

“Early engagement with patient and professional groups, as well as the wider health and care system, will be fundamental to making the changes a success.”

Anderson concluded: “Delivering integrated health and care services throughout England will also depend on investment in our workforce and a long-overdue upgrade to health and care records so that all pharmacists can make the most of their expertise to support patient care.”

Once-in-a-decade opportunity: ABPI

Speaking on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry, Richard Torbett, the chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), commented: “The response to the pandemic has shown how critical the UK’s pharmaceutical industry is to our country’s future.

“The Queen’s Speech has set the ambition for the UK to lead the world in life sciences. New NHS legislation will provide a once-in-a-decade opportunity to embed research at the heart of the NHS.

“During Covid-19, we’ve seen more patients, staff and NHS sites engage in research than ever before and we need to keep this active approach and apply it across every disease, he rightly said.

“Investment in research and skills must support this vision. Plans to boost R&D funding and improve education and training can support our members make the UK a life sciences superpower.”

Government must keep its promise: NPA

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) reminded the government to keeps its promises to fund pharmacy services so they can “help the nation get back on its feet”.

Incidentally, the NPA was among the organisations invited to a briefing on Tuesday by Lord Bethell, minister for innovation in the Department for Health about the validation regime for Covid-19 tests.

“Having a list of validated tests will help remove much of the current confusion in the market. Pharmacies can then provide these tests directly to the public without the need for further validation. However, some pharmacies may have already purchased stock which may not meet the central validation thresholds, and DHSC should introduce appropriate mitigation should these consultation proposals go on to be implemented,” the NPA noted.

Integrate pharmacies: CCA

The Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) called on the government to use the legislation announced in the Queen’s Speech to fully integrate community pharmacies into the health and social care landscape.

Commenting on the same, Malcolm Harrison, Chief Executive of the CCA, said: “While we are yet to see the detail of the government’s proposals, we very much hope that any changes will ensure community pharmacies are an integrated part of the emerging health and care systems.”

“Integration of community pharmacies into local healthcare systems will bring multiple benefits for patients and the NHS. Their roles as experts in medicines, community pharmacies have proven that they can support other elements of the health service to meet the urgent care needs of local populations. It is vital that these capabilities are recognised by local systems so that the appropriate referrals are made,” he added.

“The recognition of the value of community pharmacies shown by the public and many leading politicians during the pandemic needs to be translated into legislative change that will cement this vital sector’s role in all health systems.”

History of quality and reliability: AIMp

The Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacy (AIMp) opined that a national recovery from the pandemic must fully involve independent community pharmacies.

It’s chief executive, Dr Leyla Hannbeck, said: “We’ve shown what can be achieved and we should seize the opportunity to continue this collective push, to reform the health service – partly to ensure that should there be any repetition we are in better shape, but also to make our healthcare provision is more efficient and fit for future purpose.

“A healthier nation needs its independent community pharmacies to provide accessible, trusted healthcare. We should use legislation to put our relationship with the NHS on a more positive footing, to make permanent the good work we do and the important role we occupy.“

“It is also time, as we revitalize our high streets, to recognise the position that independent pharmacies occupy, as beacons and magnets for healthcare, built upon a long history of quality and reliability.”


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