Responding to the Murray Review published today, Sandra Gidley, Chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Board said:
“This review by Richard Murray describes a clinical, patient centred role for community pharmacists, completely in line with our own vision for the profession, as described in the 2013 Now or Never report.
“The key to unlocking this potential lies in enabling community pharmacy to move quickly to this future. We welcome the reaffirmation of focus on pharmacists’ read and write access to patient records and other key clinical systems. For community pharmacy lack of access to critical clinical information remains a practical barrier to greater integration into NHS services that needs to be removed with urgency.
“It is not credible for anyone who works on the front line not to view this report without reference to the reduction in funding for community pharmacy. We are not alone in being concerned in how the circle can be squared; a reduction in resources does not help pharmacists do more to improve patient care.
“For the profession to have confidence in delivery of the recommendations set out in this document, the promised £300m integration fund needs to be translated into a workable implementation plan. The profession needs to hear how and when this fund will be deployed to ensure clinical medication reviews and independent prescribing move from being aspirations to reality.
“The recent RPS led campaigns calling for a greater role for pharmacy in urgent care, care homes, and long term conditions are reflected in this review.
“It’s very encouraging to see that that the argument for a pharmacy-based minor ailments service to be available throughout England has changed from not if, but how, it will happen. The focus of our most recent campaign on early detection of long term conditions by pharmacists, direct referral by pharmacists and greater patient support through independent prescribing pharmacists is now high on the agenda. I believe this is a testament to our hard work since the Now or Never report in 2013 to reposition the profession and drive awareness of the expertise of pharmacists.
“On public health there is a call for smoking cessation to become part of the service that all community pharmacies provide. This is a welcome change from the mantra that public health services can “only be commissioned locally.” Perhaps this thinking can be applied to other public health services too.
“The role of pharmacy technicians in the provision of prescription medicines through Patient Group Directions makes sense with flu vaccinations, but also asks questions of the current variability of training and experience of pharmacy technicians, which will need to be addressed to avoid any concerns around patient safety.
“The need described by Richard Murray for pharmacy development to sit within the broader NHS reform agenda spelled out by the “Forward View” is welcome. The recommendations for integration of pharmacy both within Sustainability and Transformation Plans and the NHS Vanguard programme are urgent. The ability of community pharmacy in particular to add capacity as well as compatibility to primary care must not be overlooked as care is re-designed
“Lastly, we recognise our responsibility in improving the support for pharmacists to build their professional confidence and break down barriers between health professionals that can hinder new ways of working.
“I have already had a productive meeting with Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard, the new Chair of RCGP and I hope we can meet again soon to discuss both the Murray review and care for older people.
“Richard Murray has challenged NHS commissioners and the profession to make change happen. We have already seen a big change in the numbers of pharmacists working in General Practice. This report provides a keen focus on community pharmacy with a clear objective of implementing, rather than talking, about change. The RPS is committed to playing its part in full in making the recommendations in this report happen.”