There is a need for GPs to understand ‘exactly what’s on offer from community pharmacy’ and collaborate better through PCNs, an NHS England director of primary care has said.
Speaking at the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) conference yesterday (8 July), Ed Waller, director for primary care strategy and NHS contracts at NHS England, said GPs ‘haven’t always been able to understand exactly what’s on offer from community pharmacy and to connect with it in the right way’.
He said he wanted community pharmacy to be more integrated in every PCN, our sister title The Pharmacist reports.
At the same time, following a piece by Pulse columnist Copperfield, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) called for a primary care roundtable to build bridges between GP practices and community pharmacy.
Speaking at the annual conference, Mr Waller said: ‘They haven’t always been able to understand exactly what’s on offer from community pharmacy and to connect with it in the right way,’ Mr Waller commented.
‘We are working with general practice to make sure GP surgeries are understanding that service and starting to refer through it to community pharmacies.
‘I know you’ll be doing that locally with your GP teams, but what more can we do, to build that in as a fundamental and standard part of the way we direct people to the right place for their needs in primary care.’
Mr Waller added: ‘I want to continue to emphasise that we really want to see community pharmacy a more and more integrated part of every PCN. I know that is working better in some places than others.
‘I’ve heard some really encouraging examples of how community pharmacy and general practice have worked together on Covid vaccinations, on flu vaccinations, on management of various conditions, and I know that in other places the relationship isn’t as well developed.’
In an open letter, Thorrun Govind, chair of the RPS England board, wrote: ‘As a profession, we often face disparaging comments which ignore the important role we play in patients’ lives.
‘There are huge benefits for collaboration between general practice and community pharmacy. By working more closely together we can improve access to primary care by supporting patients who require advice and treatment for certain minor illness conditions in the pharmacy.
‘We share so many of the same objectives with general practitioners and I know we will be stronger if we work together.
‘To make this a reality, I am proposing a roundtable with RPS, RCGP and other Royal Colleges. The focus will be on primary care, discussing how we can better work together as we emerge from Covid.’