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New report highlights how a holistic approach to pharmacy can transform healthcare delivery

Speakers at the Launch praised the report for its forward-thinking approach to pharmacy

Bayer

7 min read Partner content

The report argues that a new approach to pharmacy will unlock its full potential across local communities and the country.


This article has been initiated and funded by Bayer plc who are fully responsible for the content. This article will be reviewed in November 2025.


The Health and Social Care Committee’s inquiry on the role of pharmacy and the issues impacting the sector is eagerly anticipated.

During a time of change and reorganisation across the health and care system, and following upheaval driven by the Covid-19 pandemic, the inquiry will assess the current status of pharmacy in England and consider what the future of pharmacy could look like with a particular focus on community, primary care and hospital pharmacy services.

It follows the introduction of Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) last year, in turn creating a profound opportunity to unleash the true value of pharmacy and to elevate the sector to a system-wide strategic asset.

Against this backdrop and drawing on the evidence they submitted to the inquiry, a new report published by Public Policy Projects (PPP) and sponsored by Bayer alongside other partners in the sector, ‘Driving true value from medicines and pharmacy1, is calling for ICSs to draw upon their unique capabilities to implement a pharmacy-led transformation of health care delivery.

Front cover of report
The report examining how the UK can unlock pharmacy's full potential was launched at PPP's ICS Delivery Forum in November

The report argues that “pharmacy itself presents a key strategic asset which can be harnessed to not only supplement the key goals of integrated care but also define population health management strategies and reduce health inequalities.”2

In his foreword, project lead Yousaf Ahmad, ICS Chief Pharmacist and Director of Medicines Optimisation at the Frimley Health and Care Integrated Care System, says it is his hope that “this report will encourage stakeholders from across the sector, including commissioners and regulators, to work collaboratively to harness the true value of pharmacy and achieve the ultimate goal of better, more accessible, and more equitable health and care services.”3

The document calls for a series of recommendations4 to be included as part of the Committee’s final inquiry report, including:

  • For Integrated Care Boards - pharmacists should be encouraged to collaborate across the health and care sector, particularly those who specialise in public health to improve health outcomes using their connections to local communities.
  • Primary Care Leadership – should become more diverse to represent all four pillars of primary care, ensuring that the capabilities of each pillar are maximised.
  • In Pharmacy Leadership – pharmacies should seek to create partnerships with patients to address non-compliance and improve health, and efforts to boost recruitment and retention should work beyond professional and organisational silos.
  • NHS England – should ensure that data sharing is harnessed in a way that feeds into and maximises the value within the pharmacy sector.
  • Central Government – must ensure all future contractual reforms for pharmacy are integrated in nature, considering the full breadth of primary care service provision and should be based on health outcomes.

The report from PPP and its sponsorship partners also follows the publication of the Government’s Major Conditions Strategy 5. The sector collective is calling for this, and other national strategies, to take a holistic approach to the role of pharmacists and for this principle to be applied across the care system, including in medicines management and across ICB strategies and integrated care.

Ultimately, the authors and supporters of this report hope that these recommendations will result in the total value of pharmacy being realised, rather than just looking at the cost of the medicine and financial savings. This includes the fact that the pharmacy sector is a diverse workforce, with pharmacists offering unique patient knowledge in the delivery of care in the community, to help address population health and health inequality challenges.

The report was officially launched at PPP’s ICS Delivery Forum on the 1st of November. Project lead Yousaf Ahmad, Chief Pharmacist and Director of Medicines Optimisation, Frimley ICB, opened the session, calling the development of the report “a very cathartic experience.”

He feels there are “some sectors of the health care system that are chomping at the bit” to resolve some of the real difficulties within the NHS. This is the way forward for Yousaf; “Everybody’s going to be talking about integrative care systems soon…I really do think that this is going to be in the front and centre of chief execs as well as the wider health system.” In an integrative care system, he says, the average medicine budget will raise from £150 million to a billion pounds depending on the size of the ICS. He also asks what is it that community pharmacy can do and what investment does it need to do it. He closes by pointing to the work of the sector “the pharmacy profession is a competent, regulated profession. There's over 80,000 in pharmacy professionals in the UK, largely between 60,000 pharmacists and 20,0000 community pharmacy technicians. These individuals are well trained, and how do we start to galvanize what they can offer us in a way that can deliver real benefits to the patient and the healthcare system?”

Speaking at the launch Ursula Montgomery, head of Healthcare Government Affairs at Bayer UK said reading the report was ‘cathartic’ as she reflected back on her career across roles in the NHS clinical frontlines, and on stories of how community pharmacy remained open, at the centre of the communities they support, during the Covid-19 pandemic from testing to vaccinations.

Montgomery added that there has always been lots of discussion around the NHS’ need for innovation; in medicines, in treatments, in clinical methods. A report from the NHS Confederation6 produced last year suggests that 1.2 million people are missing out on treatment in 4 innovative medicine classes right now. And other reports show that the UK is slower than other European countries to adopt new medicines and treatments7. Montgomery is clear that ensuring equitable and timely access to the right medications and treatments has a huge impact on economic growth. She argues that we must look at NHS funding through this lens; that good health benefits community’s employment, and the economy, rather than as a drain in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis.

Timing is everything and this report has arrived at a good time, Montgomery argues, “if you think about policy making, this isn't just about integrated care systems, it's how are you going to influence the national policy makers. In the next 1-2 years there are opportunities with the Quality Outcomes Framework consultation, GP and pharmacy contract renewal discussions and the Government’s spending review to provide feedback and what you think needs to be different.  So timing is absolutely critical.”

Michael Lennox, who works with the National Pharmacy Association, agreed that the timing of the report “was great”, saying the publication “felt like a Christmas present.” Lennox acknowledges that the NHS has done some great work on the issues raised recently, but that this report pushes the thinking on the issues even further forward and is the “logical extension of direction for community pharmacy.”

David Tamby Rajah, Pharmacy Consultant, Community Pharmacy South West London, has been in the space trying to push pharmacy forward for the last 20 years; facing many barriers and obstacles on the way. He says he now “sees opportunities in the face of challenges…in population health management, in having proper business conversations with ICS about their recovery plans for primary care access.” He calls the reforms to pharmacy suggested by the report “a very big agenda that offers assets and opportunities” that we must make use of.

To read ‘Driving true value from medicines and pharmacy’, in full please click here


Job bag number: PP-MACS-GB-0193. Date of publication: November 2023


References:
1. Public Policy Projects, ‘Driving true value from medicines and pharmacy’, November 2023
2. Public Policy Projects, ‘Driving true value from medicines and pharmacy’, Page 9, November 2023
3. Public Policy Projects, ‘Driving true value from medicines and pharmacy’, Page 3, November 2023
4. Public Policy Projects, ‘Driving true value from medicines and pharmacy’, Page 7, November 2023
5. Department of Health and Social Care, ‘Major conditions strategy: case for change and our strategic framework’, August 2023
6. NHS Confederation and ABPI report, Transforming lives, improving health outcomes | NHS Confederation, page 22, January 2023
7.  ABPI and King’s Fund report, https://www.abpi.org.uk/media/news/2023/june/new-report-from-the-king-s-fund-shows-the-uk-underperforming-on-treatable-health-conditions-says-the-abpi/, Page 57, June 2023

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