Invest in pharmacy to widen access to NHS care, NPA urges

The National Pharmacy Association has published a report calling for a greater role for community pharmacy in addressing the NHS’s “chronic access problem”.

The NPA’s See You Sooner report makes the following proposals:

  • Invest in community pharmacy-based NHS services to widen access to care
  • Give pharmacists more opportunities to initiate, stop or modify patients’ medicines
  • Give pharmacists read and write access to patient records
  • Amend the NHS Constitution to include guarantees of timely face to face access to primary care (the Constitution’s current access pledges relate to emergency care or interventions that follow referral to hospital specialists).

The report follows an NPA survey highlighting that 80 per cent of people believe access to NHS care has decreased over the past decade, and that 90 per cent of people agree with entrusting pharmacists with more NHS services in order to widen access and relieve GP pressures.

In one of his first statements since being appointed NPA chairman, Nitin Sodha said: “The NHS has a chronic access problem. Community pharmacy – a walk-in service located close to where people live, work and shop – must surely be part of the solution. There is growing pressure on GPs and hospitals, often leading to long waiting times.

“Pharmacies have the potential to do so much more to improve access to care, if the government invests in pharmacy services and allows pharmacists to put their clinical skills to use. Our survey shows that people clearly understood local pharmacies are a solution to the NHS crisis.”

Patients Association chief executive Rachel Power welcomed the proposals, saying: “Patients, their families and carers must be able to feel confident that when they need care, advice and support they can access this in a timely way and it is provided to the highest standard. I’m therefore glad to see this confident promotion of the place of community pharmacy among the options to these challenges.

“I hope that it will not be too long before every asset at our disposal, including our community pharmacy network, is harnessed fully in providing patient care as effectively as possible.”

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