A Systems Approach to Medicines Optimisation and Pharmacy

Illustration of hands reaching for pharmacyClinical and professional leadership in the NHS

Our members are increasingly responsible for overseeing NHS-funded pharmacy services.

As well as enhancing medicines optimisation, they are overseeing the development and deployment of staff across England's 44 Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs).

What does System Leadership mean for me?

Whether you're already in a leadership role or are ready to take your first steps into system leadership, we can help you explore leadership opportunities within healthcare.

We hope you'll create a network with system leaders in your area and across the country (note – this guide is most relevant to pharmacists in England, but the principles will be useful to pharmacists in Scotland and Wales, too).

We've included case studies from pharmacists working in different levels of the system and links to tools, standards and guides to develop the leadership qualities required to work collaboratively across boundaries.

This online resource will help you explore the opportunities for pharmacy service development and medicines optimisation within integrated health and care systems.

Why not submit your own leadership case study?

Download our case study template and email it to [email protected]

What is System Leadership about? What is System Leadership about?

  • Supporting pharmacists to work collaboratively both intra-professionally and multiprofessionally
  • Six enablers to support effective system leadership
  • Encourage system leaders to form a network through the exchange of case studies
  • Case studies of working collaboratively to benefit patient care.

Audience, Definitions, Purpose and Scope Audience, Definitions, Purpose and Scope


  • Pharmacists working as current system leaders
  • Pharmacists working towards leadership roles
  • Healthcare professionals - to help them understand how pharmacists' skills and knowledge can support patient care
  • STP/ICS leads and PCN clinical directors - to help them understand how to deliver medicines optimisation through pharmacy teams across a system.

Purpose & Scope

  • To support pharmacists navigating current and future systems reflected by the NHS LTP and the introduction of PCNs and STPS/ICS
  • To support pharmacists working in all areas of practice to work collaboratively both inter-professionally and multi-professionally 
  • To support pharmacists as system leaders leading on medicines optimisation to be formally recognised within their STP/ICS governance structure.
  • To provide practical case studies showing the key elements important in system leadership 
  • To advise pharmacists on how to adopt a collaborative pharmacy approach to deliver medicines optimisation
  • To encourage system leaders to form a network through the website, helping individuals to upload case studies and share their learning.


System is referred to within a healthcare context to mean across health and social care boundaries; organisations which provide health and social care to patients and the public.

System Leadership is the “Leadership across organisational and geopolitical boundaries, beyond individual professional disciplines, within a range of organisational and stakeholder cultures, often without direct managerial control” (NHS Leadership Academy)

Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) were created to bring local health and care leaders together to plan around the long-term needs of local communities. They were drawn up by senior figures from different parts of the local health and care system, following discussion with staff, patients and others in the communities they serve.

Integrated Care Systems (ICS) - the NHS Long-Term Plan set out the ambition for local health and care organisations to become part of the new ‘Integrated Care Systems’ by 2021. The Plan builds on the 44 Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) developed since 2016. It will promote more integrated working, including between primary care, hospital trusts, local authorities, and the voluntary sector. Commissioners will make shared decisions with providers on how to use resources, design services and improve population health.

Primary Care Network (PCN) - NHS England’s Next Step On The NHS Five year Forward View (2017) included proposals for more GP practices to work together in ‘hubs’ or networks. Based on the premise that a combined patient population of at least 30-50,000 allows practices to share workforce, it builds on the Primary Care Home approach championed by the National Association for Primary Care. Primary Care Networks would be linked to the proposed Integrated Care Systems – working across organisational boundaries with community, primary, secondary care, mental health and social care services.

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