The North East London local pharmaceutical committee has unveiled a new model to reposition community pharmacy as an integrated care provider in the community.
Speaking at an event organised by the LPC in Ilford last month, its secretary, Hemant Patel, said the idea behind a ‘High Street Clinic’ was “to examine the possibility of what happens beyond dispensing.”
It was also to explore ways to utilise the clinical skills of community pharmacists, their public health expertise as well as maximising on “our unique and strong links to the communities that we serve.”
“High Street Clinic looked at all the challenges coming our way and how we can reposition ourselves in order to take advantage of the changes instead of protesting about it,” he told a gathering which included leading NHS figures, heads of pharmacy bodies and pharmacy contractors.
The LPC said the purpose of the high street model was not to devalue the important role of community pharmacy but to consider what else it could do to help communities take charge of their health and wellbeing.
“With very limited resources but with a lot of enthusiasm and new ideas, we have created new models of care that improve care in our patients, local communities and everything around us.” the LPC said.
In response to changes taking place within health and social care and realising that the existing support systems for LPCs were not adequate for the delivery of a new vision, they have created an award-winning provider company, FirstCare Connection, under the leadership of Janaka Perera, who’s also the Committee’s strategy lead.
Speaking at the event, he explained how the LPC’s London offer was an opportunity to get the best out of communities by leveraging community pharmacy as an asset.
“Community pharmacy, as an asset, has value to it, but it’s not recognised,” he said.
By having meaningful conversations with the public, community pharmacy could demonstrate their real value, Perera said, adding that those conversations with the public will translate into a role, which can be delivered at the PCN level.
He said the High Street Clinic model was an offer they were making to “our system leaders”.
But he added: “It’s taken a lot of work and a lot of discussion, very heated discussion, about what we can and what we can’t do – do we have the workforce, do we have the premises to do this? Is it better for the GPs to do?”
Perera’s team is preparing what he called a “suite of tools to support our contractors to develop themselves as leaders locally.” These tools, he said, will “support their engagement” with the general practice and other players within their respective PCNs and allow the contractors to have the right conversations around delivery of new services.
“The offer is also about making sure that what we put out there across North East London against all those 48 PCNs is consistent because at the end of the day what we are focussed on is patient care – it’s about their experience and about the outcomes they get from our interventions.”
The High Street Clinic model takes a leaf out of the retail-based clinics that have proliferated in the US in the past few years and aligns to meet the aims and objectives of the NHS long term plan.
The new model focuses on development of workforce and collaborative working, embracing technology, mobile health and automation, reviewing premises design and the network requirements influencing contractual mechanisms and professional regulations.
NEL LPC’s vision for community pharmacy retains and enhances the link with all communities, promotes professionalism in a collaborative environment and helps to embrace change – thereby helping reposition the sector within the health and social care economy.
Expanding on the purpose of High Street Clinic, Chairman of the LPC, Surinder Singh Kalsi, said: “With very limited resources but with a lot of enthusiasm and new ideas we have created new models of care that improve care in our patients, local communities and everything around us.
“The world of community pharmacy has been difficult and uncertain, but we also acknowledge that we have a key role to play in the new landscape and delivering and supporting health and well-being to our communities.”
Mark Lyonette, Chief Executive at the NPA said: “It was a pleasure to join an impressive number of contractors, local and national stakeholders for an interesting and stimulating evening in Ilford. NE London LPC has long been a champion for clinical service development and they continue to think big about what community pharmacy can do.”
A group of pharmacists from the LPC, called the ‘clinical army’, has already undergone a postgraduate diploma programme in clinical pharmacy at Bath University. They will be responsible for upskilling their local pharmacy workforce.
Simon Dukes, PSNC CEO, said: “The North East London community pharmacy offer demonstrates the scope and ambition of how pharmacy can work with and for the community. The LPC has worked hard to engender an environment where community pharmacies can come together in Primary Care Networks and work closely with GPs, other healthcare professionals and local commissioners to deliver on the CPCF and beyond.”
This article also appears in the February issue of Pharmacy Business.