Developing talent to meet the opportunities in the Five Year Forward View

Cormac Tobin, Managing Director at Celesio UK talks about the importance of encouraging entrepreneurial people to the pharmacy profession to drive its future

In NHS England’s Five Year Forward View (5YFV), published last month, it was acknowledged that to sustain the future of the NHS, clinical professions must become more integrated as healthcare demands change; chronic conditions and minor ailments should be managed in new ways to help the NHS concentrate on maximising the use of its capabilities and resources. Importantly, pharmacy was recognised as a viable contributor to the UK healthcare solution, and now we must drive forward the positive opportunities that this lane change is setting ahead of us.

These new ways of working in the future will move the pharmacy sector further away from a dispensing-only model towards a more service-led model, which supports people with long term conditions and takes better advantage of the clinical expertise of pharmacists. This is a positive change that will create higher demand for pharmacists. We therefore must further develop the pharmacy workforce and secure the right skills mix in pharmacy graduates to support the evolving clinical opportunities ahead if we want to make the 5YFV’s vision a reality.

In order to ensure that the workforce is appropriately developed to step up to an enhanced role, we need to develop a consistent level of professional expertise across all roles within community pharmacy, and maximise the expertise of all within the sector. This would require the up skilling of the clinical competencies of pharmacists, developing the role of technicians to support the supply of medicines process, and supporting and encouraging all of our staff to become health champions. To support this, we would welcome industry working together with Health Education England in developing a national strategic framework for community pharmacy, rooted in NHS England’s Five Year Forward View.

Of course, we also need to ensure that there is capacity of people in the system to support the cultural shift to patients using pharmacy as the first point of care. This isn’t a case of trying to balance supply and demand, but encouraging entrepreneurial young people to pharmacy to break from the restrictive moulds set out by the sector over the last 20 years, challenge the status quo and develop improved and innovative ways of meeting the 5YFV’s challenge. With the right people behind the ideas, pharmacists have the capability to take on services that will alleviate pressure on the NHS and create a sustainable future for it, as well as the pharmacy profession.

We are on the brink of a healthcare revolution that will change pharmacy and healthcare as we know it for the better. Pharmacy can be a much greater part of the NHS than it is today and talented, enterprising individuals that have the vision to make it happen – now or in five years’ time – should be developed, supported and encouraged to do so.

UK | December 8 2014