Following consultations with its members, the National Pharmacy Association has detremined that independent community pharmacy sector will need to think “big and bold” about the post-Covid world.
The national pharmacy body wants pharmacies to become the starting point for most patient journeys, in the wake of the pandemic.
The call follows a number of virtual discussion forums with NPA members across the UK, ahead of talks with other pharmacy bodies, patient groups and the NHS about the future as the nationwide lockdown is gradually eased.
NPA vice chair, Nick Kaye: “Our discussions with members indicate a desire within the sector to go big and bold in our post-crisis offer to the nation, not just to go back to the way things were before.
“There will be a window of time to position community pharmacy decisively as the default starting point for most patient journeys, within integrated local care systems. This will help the NHS recover from the trauma of Covid-19 and bring lasting benefits.
“The health service will need to deal with the pent-up demand caused by coronavirus, including postponed elective surgery and delayed preventative interventions. Community pharmacy has a huge role to play in freeing up capacity to clear the backlog of care – especially if independent prescribing spreads its wings and better integration with other parts of primary care can be achieved.
“And with the Treasury needing to save money in the light of the massive public expenditure of the past few months, pharmacies can bring more care into the community and out of more expensive hospital-based care, if properly supported.”
Pointing out that the health system would need to be future-proofed against the inevitability of a future pandemic, Kaye said community pharmacies, which have proven themselves a key element of system resilience over the past few months, would need “substantial investment.”
Meanwhile, NHS England has begun a survey seeking to capture the beneficial changes which have been seen across general practice, primary care networks, and community pharmacy during the response to Covid-19.
The idea behind the survey is to make sure these innovations are “captured, evaluated and, where possible and appropriate, sustained for the future.”