by Ross Gregory, Head of External Relations, RPS Wales
We are now on the final approach to the 2021 Welsh election. The election campaigns are in full swing and the key political parties have revealed their intentions to shape public services should they be elected to form the next Welsh Government.
Unsurprisingly, the impact of the pandemic has fuelled new plans for transformation and recovery for the NHS in Wales. This is a common denominator in each of the party manifestos but each has their own unique view. Each party has recognised how the pandemic has illuminated both positive aspects of our care system and areas that need significant attention and reform.
So what do the party manifestos reveal for pharmacy and the benefits patients can expect from pharmacy services in the future in Wales?
Prospects for pharmacy
We are pleased that the commitments of each of the three main parties will impact positively upon pharmacy and patients using pharmacy services. This provides some welcome reassurance that whichever party or parties form the next Welsh Government, pharmacy will be included their plans.
So what are the parties committing to that will be of interest to the pharmacy profession?
Welsh Labour Is committing to:
- Transforming heath care through continuity of their current strategic programme spearheaded by A Healthier Wales.
- Delivering structural changes and contract reform to bring primary and secondary care together and ensure greater collaboration between health and social care.
- Maintaining free prescriptions for Welsh citizens.
- Continuing to reform primary care to bring together GP services and pharmacy and to ensure greater collaboration between wider community services such as housing, social care, mental health to support people to stay well.
- Introducing electronic prescribing
Plaid Cymru is promising to:
- Move forward from the pandemic and not move back to the status quo. An ambitious Plaid Cymru programme for government will deliver a new seamless national health and care service to rebalance the delivery of personal care and health care, ensuring both can be free at the point of delivery.
- Support staff in accessing occupational health services, counselling and leisure and sport facilities to promote good health and wellbeing.
- “Be a leader in the next wave of the digitalisation of healthcare” and ensuing appropriate access to patient records. Under a Plaid government all personal health information will be portable across the health care system by 2025 to allow for appropriate access to improve patient care.
- Improve quality of care by ensuring health and social care staff have access to Continuing Professional Development
- Increase the number of Welsh speakers working in healthcare in Wales so that Welsh speaking patients are able to obtain NHS services in Welsh.
The Welsh Conservative Party is prioritising:
- A whole systems change across health and social care, underpinned by real time increases in funding, increases in staff recruitment and providing adequate pump-priming of new services to deliver sustainable change.
- A ‘retain, recruit and train’ programme to ensure investment in health professional recruitment across Wales
- Expanding the access to treatments fund to provide access to the most advanced, life-saving treatments
- Community pharmacy reform to extend the role of community pharmacy in prescribing for common ailments, delivering immunisations, diagnostic tests and medicines reviews
- Rolling out electronic prescriptions in Wales.
Creating a platform for pharmacy
Our members will be aware of our manifesto campaign over the past year, advocating for the profession on 8 key asks. We deliberately set out to create a platform for pharmacy over the next five years in our manifesto for pharmacy, closely aligned to Pharmacy: Delivering a Healthier Wales. We distributed the manifesto widely, spoke to the political parties, and worked with other colleges to campaign on areas of mutual interest.
We are thrilled that the role of pharmacy has been recognised by the political parties and that intentions to improve access to patient care have centred on a number of the changes that we have said all long are needed to unlock new directions for patients in Wales.
The work doesn’t stop at the election ballot box however. We have a full programme of work already stored up post-election. We will continue to push for the calls to action in our manifesto for pharmacy. This will include pushing for advancements for advanced therapies such as pharmacogenomics. We will build relationships with the new Members of the Senedd, helping them to understand the key issues facing pharmacists and their patients. We will work closely with the new members of the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee on behalf of our members and continue to contribute to committee inquiries , ensuring pharmacy is high on the priority list.
We believe the next five years will be an exciting time for pharmacy. We will continue to speak up for our membership and the profession to the decision makers in Cardiff Bay and we look forward to highlighting the innovation and commitment of the pharmacy profession to the newly elected Senedd.
Look out for an update the other side of the election!