Delivering Enhanced Pharmacy Services in a Modern NHS: Improving Outcomes in Public Health and Long-Term Conditions

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Despite the Coalition Government’s pledge to ring-fence the healthcare budget, the NHS is facing sustained financial retrenchment and increased user demand.  Against the backdrop of the UK’s parlous public finances, it is vital all aspects of healthcare are examined to assess where increased value and quality can be delivered with greater cost-effectiveness.  This is especially critical since Andrew Lansley has rightfully placed patient health outcomes at the heart of Government reforms; a pressing imperative given rising public health challenges and an aging population predisposed to long-term conditions (LTCs). The conclusions drawn from our research paper show that Enhanced Pharmacy Services, which include smoking cessation, sexual health and weight loss programmes, are an under-utilised resource that can deliver innovative, cost-effective services to patients in a highly accessible manner.  Moreover, such services can help the NHS achieve its Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention (QIPP) objectives. For example, it is estimated annually that 57 million GP consultations concern minor ailments, which in large could be dealt with at a pharmacy.  The average cost of a pharmacy consultation (£17.75) versus an average GP consultation (£32) is £14.25 less expensive.  If all patients with minor ailments received pharmacy consultations, then over £812 million could potentially be saved from the NHS budget equating to over 4% of the Government’s pledged £20 billion efficiency savings target.