(1) How to establish a new community pharmacy service

By Rebecca Russell

Until the publication of the NHS Plan and pharmacy strategies for England, Scotland and Wales, community pharmacy services had been defined by the national pharmacy contract. The Pharmacy in the Future website,1 which is designed to help pharmacists develop their role within a modernised National Health Service, states that pharmacy services should be:

  • Designed around the needs of patients, not organisations
  • Developed in response to both local and national needs and programmes
  • Focused on patients’ clinical needs, in particular helping them to get the most out of their medicines
  • Integrated with other services (both health and social care)
  • Of high quality and convenient for service users to access
  • Developed making the best use of all staff and their skills
  • Developed using a multidisciplinary, team approach

The potential range of new pharmacy services includes services to residential homes, smoking cessation and disease management clinics, medicines management schemes and minor ailments services.

One of the most significant factors in increasing the likelihood that a new service will be implemented is whether it meets an unmet patient or primary care organisation (PCO) need. If a bid is made for a service, which does not solve a PCO problem, it is almost certain to fail. A service that is developed to add value to or complement an existing service, relieve workload or reduce appointment times or waiting times within primary care is more likely to be taken forward than one which meets none of these criteria.

What type of service?

How do pharmacists identify gaps in current service provision or unmet needs and tailor a new service to provide a solution? First, it may be possible to identify a local need simply by liaison with local general practitioners — close collaboration with local practices often leads to ideas for additional services. Second, PCOs publish their key health priorities in a variety of strategic documents and local plans. Pharmacists can use these plans to identify opportunities for new services to improve health in their area. New services that help PCOs to meet planned targets are more likely to succeed because budgets will often be committed to these priority areas many months in advance. Copies of local plans are available on individual PCO websites or as hard copies from PCO offices.

The new GP contract could provide opportunities for new community pharmacy services, which either seek to support existing GP workload or help GPs to meet their quality and outcome targets, including those set by the national service frameworks (NSFs) and the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) guidelines. These set the gold standards in each area of care and contain specific targets, which PCOs have to meet.

Making a bid for a new service

When a potential service has been identified, a formal bid must be prepared and should include evidence to demonstrate the need for the service. Evidence can include the results of an audit of current practice, results from pilots or research into the effectiveness of a similar service. The next article in this series will look at sources of evidence.

Download the attached PDF to read the full article.

Citation: The Salvadore URI: 10996772

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