From Mrs G. Curphey, MRPharmS
Has public health fallen below the radar? What are we as pharmacists doing to ensure that the new health and wellbeing boards (HWBs), which are being set up by directors of public health and local councils, are aware of the plethora of clinical services that are available at their fingertips from community pharmacists?
My experience as a primary care trust pharmacy lead with links in my cluster to four directors of public health tells me that pharmacy professional links into HWBs are tenuous at best and this should be a concern for the profession. Directors of public health are engrossed in moving their teams into local authorities, identifying their place in the new hierarchy and ensuring that their joint strategic needs assessments do not get swamped in the process. Despite my protestations, pharmacy is just not high up on their list.
And what of pharmaceutical needs assessments (PNAs)? PNAs are to be the remit of HWBs and will be a key decision-making tool under the new NHS Pharmaceutical Services Regulations. But, as yet, I fear that that penny has not dropped in either camp. Not only will PNAs be critical in the contract application decision-making process to be undertaken by the NHS Commissioning Board, but they should also be the bedrock on which pharmacy enhanced services are commissioned. We need to ensure that, locally and nationally, public health directors and HWBs are aware of the significant roles that pharmacists can play in helping them to deliver their agenda of reducing health inequalities. Equally, from our perspective, we need to ensure that pharmaceutical advice plays into the public health arena at all levels.
NHS structural reform is having a devastating effect on PCT medicines management teams. Many experienced pharmacists working on community pharmacy and medicines management agendas are being lost to the system. Whatever the situation, we cannot afford to lose contact with the public health agenda, this has to be a key priority for our professional body.
English Pharmacy board