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Public health White Paper recognises community pharmacy’s value (updated)

by News team

Community pharmacies are recognised as “a valuable and trusted public health resource” in the Department of Health’s public health White Paper, published today (30 November 2010).

“With millions of contacts with the public each day, there is real potential to use community pharmacy teams more effectively to improve health and well-being and reduce health inequalities,” it says.

The White Paper specifies that the new public health service, Public Health England, which will sit within the DoH, will influence development of the community pharmacy contractual framework through the NHS commissioning board.

It adds that local authorities, through proposed health and well-being boards, will have responsibility for producing pharmaceutical needs assessments, which will inform the commissioning of community pharmacy services by the NHS commissioning board and local public health commissioning decisions.

Representation on health and well-being boards unlikely

However, the White Paper indicates that pharmacy is unlikely to be formally represented on all the health and well-being boards.

It proposes that there will be a minimum membership of elected representatives, GP consortia, directors of public health, directors of adult social services, directors of children’s services, local HealthWatch — a new patient rights champion — and, where appropriate, the participation of the NHS commissioning board. It will be down to local authorities to expand membership to include clinicians and providers where appropriate.

The White Paper, “Healthy lives, healthy people”, also sets out how funding from the NHS budget will be ring-fenced for spending on public health. Early estimates suggest current spend on public health is in the region of £4bn. A new health premium will take into account health inequalities and reward local authorities for progress on specific health outcomes.

Details of the public health outcomes framework and the funding will be consulted on separately in the next few weeks.

Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee chief executive Sue Sharpe noted that pharmacy is specifically mentioned in many places in the White Paper as having a role, including in health screening and delivery of services commissioned locally.

Use this opportunity

“We need to use this opportunity. The Government acknowledges pharmacy’s ability to empower communities across Britain, and the challenge for us, and for all pharmacies, is to translate this into action,” she said.

Mrs Sharpe argued that, where pharmacies can provide services of benefit in all areas, these should be incorporated into the national contract, adding that the PSNC is pleased that the NHS commissioning board will have a role in commissioning public health.

“With a solid base in the national contract we can get on with letting commissioners and providers innovate locally — designing pharmacy public health services that follow a national lead but fit the specific needs of local communities.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 11049121

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