By Richard Murray, Chief Executive, The King's Fund
The RPS and The King’s Fund have joined forces to begin work on developing a new vision for pharmacy practice in England.
Why now, and what do we hope to achieve?
Some of the motivation is not new. I have worked for many (many) years in health and care and it was a long time ago that it was first made clear to me the many opportunities for pharmacy teams to deliver a wider range of services to help improve health and healthcare. Some of those opportunities have been realised, but all too often, progress has felt slow and there is still much more that remains unlocked – or rather, given local examples of innovation – unlocked at scale across England.
That pharmacy teams could do more – and at scale – was underlined by the Covid pandemic. Suddenly, from being a partly theoretical argument that there was more pharmacy had to offer, it became very real. This is not the only example where the response to Covid could provide both benefits and learning in the longer-term. But these gains have been dearly bought and across England, the damage Covid has done to health, healthcare and to social care couldn’t be more apparent. As we look to recover from Covid, making sure that we can realise the potential that pharmacy teams offer - when motivated, enabled and supported – has never been so important.
This is why we believe now is the time to develop a vision for pharmacy practice over the next ten years. But this will be a vision grounded in the current reality of the NHS and public health in England. This means it must meet the needs of the health service and patients, as well as speaking to the profession and ensuring that the pharmacy professionals need to deliver safe and effective services are trained and developed. In addition, I do not think that pharmacy can deliver to the full unless it is fully integrated into the rest of the health and care system and this means understanding how the vision for pharmacy can be delivered within the newly reformed NHS of Integrated Care Systems, place-based partnerships and neighbourhoods. While I apologise for suddenly reverting to health reform jargon, it is just as important to know how a Vision can be implemented as it is to know what the Vision is itself.
This means we need to engage widely in this work. We want to encourage anyone who wants to help shape this vision to get in touch, register for one of the events and also to respond to the consultation over the summer. The RPS website has details about how you can get involved and when.
As well as engaging widely we are working with an advisory group who we will be using as a sounding board and to give us a reality check throughout the process. You can find out more about the advisory group here. Our first meeting was on 21 April where we outlined the work and discussed initial themes identified in The King’s Fund literature review of NHS and pharmacy policy. This literature review will be published on the vision website later in the Spring.
Find out more
In the meantime, if you have any more questions and want to meet us in person, find out more about the work and how you can be involved please join us for a webinar on 16 May 7pm – 8.30pm or email the team at [email protected].
Read more RPS blogs.