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Following a recent investigation into GP consortia conducted by the Health Service Journal (HSJ), Ajit Malhi, head of marketing services for AAH Pharmaceuticals examines what has been coined as a ‘closed shop’.
The HSJ investigation unearthed what the pharmacy profession has feared all along, that the new GP consortia model will become a closed shop.
Our concerns, despite reactive reassurances, are that underrepresentation would result in a one-sided commissioning structure. We enter a new era for the NHS which is geared towards putting the patient in the driving seat; if this is to happen it’s vital that any pharmacy representation must be more than mere tokenism.
Pharmacists sit at the coalface for their communities and are well adjusted to taking the lead in public health. However, it is GPs and practice managers that dominate the boards of the 51 emerging consortia examined.
To this point health committee chair Stephen Dorrell said: “I don’t understand how you can do the job of commissioning for a population without having a public health input.”
A pharmacist / GP collaboration will not only achieve better results but will also do so at a lower cost as demonstrated by the success of Scotland’s chronic medication service. It is also recognised that patient care requires the support of many healthcare professionals, be that a GP, nurse or pharmacist.
Furthermore, any patient clinical pathway should be the result of collaboration between all these healthcare professionals and with Mr Lansley’s dictum ‘no decision about me without me’ still ringing loud and clear it’s astonishing that less than a third of the boards had a patient representation.
Not only will this silo approach have an impact upon an already squeezed pharmacy remuneration, it will also be to the detriment of patient care and wellbeing which secondary care will once again pick up the bill for.