HDA UK supports broader role for Community Pharmacy

London, 27 May 2016: The Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA UK) has responded to the Government’s Community Pharmacy consultation by calling for reform to broaden the role of community pharmacy within the NHS. The HDA argues that:

  • The pharmacy sector is crucial for the efficient and safe operation of the NHS.
  • Pharmacists are highly trained medical professionals who could dramatically reduce the current pressures on GPs and A&E departments.
  • Increasing services provided by pharmacists is crucial for the provision of high quality and safe levels of care for patients.

Support for the broadening of community pharmacy’s role stems from the experience gained by the HDA and its members, working alongside the pharmacy sector over many years, day-in and day-out, providing a resilient and well-tested network. It is also another example of the strength of the collaboration seen across the whole medicine supply chain, which sees the HDA working closely with partners at the regional, national and international levels, across pharmacy, dispensing doctors and pharmaceutical manufacturers.

It is vital that the Government devolves additional capabilities to pharmacies, to ensure that NHS is able to cope with the increased demand most often seen through great pressures on General Practitioners and Accident and Emergency Departments. Pharmacists are highly trained medical professionals, but their skills are currently underutilised by the Government.

More specifically, the HDA believes additional services could, and should, be provided by community pharmacists, including the provision of vaccines, medicines optimisation reviews and health checks. HDA members have always assisted community pharmacy in supporting their patients and they stand ready to help enable a widening of these services. For example, HDA members already assist community pharmacy in providing easily accessible services by delivering vital medicines on average, twice each day, six days a week, across the four nations of the United Kingdom. HDA members also support the NHS commissioned pharmacy flu vaccination services by the ability to respond to variations in pharmacy demands on a ‘real-time’ basis.

The HDA also welcomes the PSNC’s counter-proposals to the Government’s plans for Community Pharmacy in 2016/17 and beyond, such as the call for pharmacists to take responsibility for the out-of-hours prescription service. Our members already provide emergency supplies of drugs to pharmacies across the four nations of the United Kingdom and would be well placed to support pharmacy in the delivery of such a service. Another proposal with which the HDA agrees, is the generic substitution service included in PSNC’s plan as it is a safe and efficient way for the NHS to save money on its medicines bill.

Finally, the HDA reiterated its concerns about the emphasis placed in the consultation document on the ability for so-called ‘hub and spoke’ to be able to deliver significant benefits and efficiencies. In summary, hub and spoke technology is at a very early stage and it is unclear what impact it will have on the healthcare distribution sector. HDA members do not see hub and spoke as a method of saving money, but as a way to provide a wider range of services to their customers. Hub and spoke could have additional benefits through freeing-up ‘spoke’ pharmacists’ time to deliver more patient-centric services. Yet, it is unclear whether there is demand for hub and spoke from independent pharmacy to make it a viable business model outside of the vertically integrated chains.

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