Primary health care policy and vision for community pharmacy and pharmacists in England

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Pharmacies, Primary Health Care, Delivery of Health Care, Integrated, Ambulatory Care, Community Health Services, Pharmacists, Community Pharmacy Services, Professional Practice, England


The United Kingdom health and care system is changing dramatically to meet the health challenges of the 21st century. People will increasingly have multiple morbidities. The focus of service delivery is changing from hospital to community, patient to population and curative to preventive. This paper describes the NHS and primary care and community pharmacy in England at the start of 2020, a time of great change. The 10-year vison for the NHS is that everyone gets the best start in life, world class care for major health problems supporting people to age well. It has over 40 mentions of pharmacists and pharmacy. The key aims of the plan are to improve ‘out-of-hospital’ care, and finally dissolve the historic divide between primary and community health service in England. All of England is covered by integrated care systems and the newly formed primary care networks which will form the foundation of these new systems. Pharmacy is involved at multiple levels. There are 11,569 community pharmacies and most of their total income comes from the NHS (range 68-85%). Around 60% pharmacies are part of multiple chains, with the remaining 40% independents or small chains of less than six outlets. The new five-year community pharmacy contract provides an opportunity to develop community pharmacy and move towards service delivery away from dispensing volume. The new services are described under medicines optimisation, prevention and urgent care. The pharmacy quality scheme is also described. The new deal will help many community pharmacies to plan their future, particularly for those pharmacies who are ready and able to change and work closely with pharmacists and other health professionals in collaboration with Primary Care Networks. There will be specific challenges around: dispensing efficiencies, freeing up pharmacists’ time, wider use of clinical skills of community pharmacists, community pharmacy viability and consolidations.

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