Response to NHS England "Urgent Care Vanguard sites" announcement

NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens and the NHS Five Year Forward View partners have announced eight new vanguard sites that will launch the transformation of urgent and emergency care for more than nine million people.

Responding to this news Sandra Gidley, RPS English Pharmacy Board Chair said:

“Like many community pharmacists I was disappointed that NHS England and PSNC have not reached agreement on a national minor ailments scheme through community pharmacy, a key priority of the English Pharmacy Board. A nationally commissioned scheme would be less confusing for patients and would also create more capacity in primary care.

“Although it would be easy to admit defeat, that’s not my style.

“I would encourage pharmacists, especially those working in the 8 Urgent and Emergency Care Vanguard sites, to use this opportunity to show how much we already do and what more is possible.

“This plan stresses that far greater integration is needed across primary and secondary care to improve services for patients and increase efficiency.

“Our Urgent and Emergency campaign focuses on the contribution pharmacy makes across health settings in secondary care, A and E departments, NHS 111 as well as community pharmacy. Prof Keith Willett appreciates the wider role pharmacists can play and I know many of the Vanguard sites will be exploring how to include pharmacy in their urgent care networks.

“Pharmacy also needs to recognise and accept the fact that local decision making is here to stay, we can choose to ignore this or we can refocus our effort on making sure pharmacists are directly involved in new models of care that will be created in local health economies.

“Breaking down the traditional boundaries is a message for pharmacy as much as for the NHS. We need to think outside our traditional roles and start to think about how we can join up, and improve, pharmaceutical care for the patient. Basing pharmacists in GP surgeries will improve the links between different care settings and maximise the role of pharmacists in other parts of the network. The NHS requires our profession to be adaptive to change and I know we are capable of meeting this challenge.

“This also means looking at current roles and skill mix, and thinking creatively about how we can participate in new initiatives such as urgent care networks. We are already engaged in this via our  “Shaping Pharmacy for the Future” programme which remains the priority of the English Pharmacy Board."