Press Release

Pharmacists role in the next steps for NHS England's Five Year Forward View

RPS England comments on the update to the NHS Five Year Forward View

NHS England has today published a new policy and strategy document that describes both the impact of the work done to date to reform the structure of the NHS, and sets out priorities and plans for the next few years.

Commenting on the NHS Forward View next steps Sandra Gidley, RPS England Board Chair said:

“There is no doubt the current workforce crisis in primary and emergency care will be partially addressed If the NHS makes use of the skills of  pharmacists already in practice and the large number of undergraduates we have coming out of pharmacy schools.  Pharmacists are the third largest health profession and can make a huge difference to patient care if better utilised and integrated in the healthcare system.

"Whilst some progress has been made, the clinical skills of pharmacists are still a great untapped potential. We urge NHS England to properly consider the contribution of community pharmacy in prevention and early detection of illness as well as and management of long term conditions.

"This isn’t an idle wish. We are now seeing the demonstrable benefit of pharmacists in GP surgeries – as referenced in the NHS Five Year Forward View – to patient care and the NHS. There is growing evidence of the difference pharmacists make when they are integrated into wider teams and given the necessary tools.”

“The benefits to the NHS of having prescribing pharmacists, with access to prescribing budgets, integrated into the wider NHS and enabled through technology and access to clinical information, is enormous. This can happen in any setting, in hospitals, NHS 111 centres, and of course community pharmacies. We will need to make sure that pharmacists have a significant role in clinical care, regardless of where they practice as the Forward View is implemented.

“There is a huge amount of change in the NHS. The days of working in silos without understanding what is going on around you are gone. This is a message for both the profession and the NHS. Pharmacists needs to be part of the change locally and nationally and the NHS needs to make engagement for pharmacists easier.

"Lastly, the reiteration of a focus on the value of medicines prescribed through the NHS in the plan, especially those with low or no evidence of effectiveness is something we support. However this endeavour needs to balance with the fact that the NHS is designed to treat people, not conditions. Affordability of treatment can be a huge barrier. By improving the use of medicines across the health economy, there is substantial evidence that care is improved and cost is reduced.”