10 Dec 2014

Commissioned by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), this report sets out our assessment of progress made over the last year in moving pharmacy towards a wider, care-giving role. 


In 2013 the RPS established a Commission on Future Models of Care Delivered Through Pharmacy. The commission's report, Now or Never: Shaping Pharmacy for the Future, urged the RPS to take the lead in enabling pharmacists in England to take on roles in patient care. 

The RPS accepted this accountable role, and followed the recommendation in Now or Never by commissioning an independent review from the Nuffield Trust to assess progress towards achieving the report’s vision. 

There’s an increasing understanding that pharmacy has a lot to offer an NHS on an urgent hunt for savings, patients looking for easy treatment on the high street for common illnesses, and people needing support to help them manage long-term conditions. But we are still not on course for pharmacists to become a care-giving profession in the way they can and should.

Dr Judith Smith, lead author and Director of Policy at the Nuffield Trust

Now More Than Ever: Why Pharmacy Needs to Act sets out the findings from this review. It comes soon after NHS England’s Five Year Forward View created broader opportunities for pharmacists than ever before, opening the door for them to provide frontline urgent and out-of hours care services, and work as part of new GP federations. 

Drawing on interviews with local and national health care leaders and an online questionnaire, we found that the RPS has taken these recommendations seriously, and that NHS leaders are increasingly considering pharmacists for roles once filled by doctors and nurses. In particular, NHS leaders increasingly accept the vision of pharmacists as a sometimes more efficient alternative to general practice and A&E as a first point of contact.

However, progress towards the idea of pharmacists as care-givers is still localised – the exception, not the rule. In many fields, there has been little sign of acceleration over the past year. This report sets out the obstacles stopping further progress, including the fragmentation of pharmacy leaders and a lack of ambition in reforming the national contract.

The report concludes with recommendations about how pharmacists and commissioners will need to change in order to seize the opportunities presented by the Five Year Forward View, and ensure that pharmacists assume a central role in the development of new models of health and social care.

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