CPS Manifesto 2021

#WinterReady

As Scotland enters the 2021 General Election, we at CPS have produced our own manifesto to make clear our asks of the next Government. We look to build on our successful track record of working with Government colleagues to deliver quality services for the people of Scotland, focusing on areas that will have the biggest impact on health outcomes such as Independent Prescribing and Public Health, as well as touching on the untapped potential of eHealth projects. 

Looking back to the previous manifesto commitments from virtually all parties, and the Scottish Government’s (SG) Programme for Government 2018/19, one of the main commitments involving community pharmacy was to increase access to community pharmacy services by developing and implementing a redesigned minor ailment and common conditions service, available to all.

Community Pharmacy Scotland has worked with Scottish Government to develop this service, resulting in the world-leading NHS Pharmacy First Scotland Service, which was launched during the pandemic in July 2020. This has brought equity of access to community healthcare to all areas of Scotland, and we are committed to further development of this service in the coming months and years.

Our focus is on further increasing access to health services using the “Pharmacy First” principle, positioning community pharmacies as the first port of call for managing self-limiting illnesses and supporting self-management of stable long-term conditions in and out of hours.

This focus has never been more apparent than during COVID, when community pharmacy has truly become the first port of call for patients. Community Pharmacy is the only healthcare profession to have not only carried on “business as usual” but is going further than ever before to ensure the continued supply of vital medicines and pharmaceutical care services – highlighting the resilience that comes from having a diverse, dedicated network of professionals with a clear purpose embedded in the heart of all communities.

This resilience is achieved through investment and collaborative working, and CPS are grateful for SG support both out with and during COVID. Had the focus been on efficiency and cost saving, as opposed to resilience and investment, the outcomes for patients through COVID would not have been of the high standard achieved.

Initial results from recent research commissioned by CPS demonstrates in part the considerable contribution that the community pharmacy network makes to the functioning of the NHS in Scotland, and the value that the people we serve place on our services:

  • Over 2,100 people in Scotland are provided with advice only treatment from community pharmacy every hour - 84,000 a week.
  • 2 in 5 people would go to their GP if community pharmacy were unavailable.
  • 4 out of 5 people accessing community pharmacy would rate the experience as 10 out of 10 for satisfaction.
  • 3 out of 4 believe community pharmacists should have access to electronic health records 9 out of 10 want their GP and pharmacist to work closer together.
  • 2 out of 3 people access community pharmacy because of the existing relationship with pharmacy teams.

You can access our full Manifesto below, or for a speed read our Mini Manifesto summarises the key points we will be taking forward in our campaigning.

Here follows a short summary of our current and near future key priorities, the benefits that these will bring to the people of Scotland, and the support required from Scottish Government to realise them.

PHARMACIST INDEPENDENT PRESCRIBERS (IP)

We have a relatively small cohort of pharmacists across community pharmacies in Scotland holding this qualification at present (approx. 100). Our ambition is to increase the number of prescribers across our network, with a long-term view of having one in each pharmacy in Scotland. The role that we envision these prescribers fulfilling is one of an extended prescriber, treating a wide range of common conditions which would otherwise need to be treated by a GP – an approach which our recent research would show is fully supported by the people of Scotland. There are also roles for IP Pharmacists in supporting the supply of medication to speed up the hospital discharge process. In line with existing government policies, these prescribers also have a part to play in the management of long-term conditions under the Medicines: Care and Review service. This prescribing role is vital in expanding our position as “First port of Call” and delivering at the top of our license to integrate with and support the multi-disciplinary team.

We have had and are grateful for SG investment to train a new cohort of these pharmacists, and thereafter CPS has committed to funding a further cohort of prescribers to deliver this extended service within the community pharmacy network.

Our commitment to developing this role is clear - existing pharmacy funding has been repurposed to support the rollout of “Pharmacy First Plus”, an extension to NHS Pharmacy First Scotland, led by prescribing Pharmacists. However, in the long term we believe that the level of funding set aside to support this is not sufficient to achieve our goal of a minimum of one IP in each community pharmacy delivering this service (1258 in total), so our ask is for the number of funded training places to be doubled, and to provide further investment for training and service delivery each year, which will allow us to reach this goal by 2030.

PUBLIC HEALTH

We firmly believe that community pharmacies could deliver a significant contribution to achieving vaccine uptake and related immunity targets across a range of programmes:

COVID vaccination

  • Flu vaccination
  • Pneumonia vaccination
  • Childhood immunisation
  • Travel vaccination

In many Health Board areas this past winter, community pharmacy teams supported the NHS ‘flu vaccination effort for the first time. Where pharmacy vaccination was available and supported with a robust vaccine supply, patients chose this option in their thousands – particularly those whose other commitments made attending mass vaccination centre appointments difficult. Notably, community pharmacies in all other areas of the UK can participate in their respective annual NHS ‘flu service, with their contributions being evaluated positively.

Our ask is for a national discussion and agreement on Community Pharmacy’s place in key vaccination programmes. We anticipate that this will maximise efficiency and equity of access across the health and social care system. CPS held a parliamentary reception in Nov 2018 to highlight the potential for this service, and we garnered cross-party support from all MSPs with whom we spoke.

SEXUAL HEALTH

The success of the Emergency Hormonal Contraception (EHC) service demonstrates the accessibility and acceptability of the community pharmacy setting when it comes to sexual health services.

From March 2019 to March 2020 there were 95,000 EHC supplies delivered through Community Pharmacy which equates to over 4 out of 5 of all supplies in the country. In addition to being excellent for patients, delivering easy to access services close to where they are, this represents a saving of over 8 full time GPs or other practitioners annually from delivering the service.

We are delighted to share that there are plans in motion to develop this service further to provide “bridging” contraceptive supplies to women struggling to gain timely access to other services. Our ask in this area is that community pharmacy is adequately resourced to explore an even bigger role in sexual health – perhaps even becoming the first port of call for regular contraception.

eHEALTH

More than ever, the need for care to be available to patients as close to home as possible is critical. This is also true of how efforts to detect and prevent ill health are delivered going forward.

Underpinning this, and the above priorities of IP and Public Health, is the need for a strong digital framework with community pharmacy at its heart, which we know is also a priority for SG. Such a framework will support the delivery of improved patient care and health and wellbeing across Scotland. Community pharmacy is often forgotten when it comes to the wider eHealth infrastructure and we would ask it is considered as a priority in areas such as Out of Hours care, consistent access to records, primary care recording systems (e.g. for vaccinations as per our ask) and electronic referral pathways.

There are a range of services with which community pharmacy can support, focused on how these can contribute to and support people managing their own health conditions in a homely setting, using digital intervention. There is a great opportunity to develop viable alternative/parallel models to traditional programmes run by the NHS, which would allow more people to be treated close to home by community pharmacy, freeing up space at GP and Hospital.

Our ask is that funding is made available to ensure that community pharmacy’s role in delivering a key governmental priority of improving Scotland’s health through digital intervention can be fully explored.