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A chance for us to seize the moment

The publication of the NHS Long Term Plan supports taking forward the well-established Carter report methodology shaping pharmacy and medicines optimisation.

This covers the best use of biologic medicines to the roll out of digital technology infrastructure such as Electronic Prescribing and Medicines Administration.

There is a clear connection to the patient benefit from using medicines and the need to optimise this use of medicines throughout the patients’ healthcare and life journey within their local integrated care system, using clinical pharmacy expertise.

Key themes of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory medicine and stroke care all have medicines at their heart and need to have clinical and, in some cases, technical pharmacy infrastructure services to ensure patient care is fully supported.

The NHS Improvement Getting it Right First Time workstreams, including the cross-cutting medicines optimisation theme, and clinical innovation, shared decision-making and data-driven care, all adhere to the principles of medicines optimisation.

As the focus spreads beyond medical practitioners as the fundamental clinical practitioner, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians working within the NHS, including those in portfolio roles in multiple organisations, supporting patients on their healthcare journey, will become more important to delivering value-based care. These roles will require a different early years’ development, including opportunities like the pharmacist foundation framework, independent prescribing and job planning comparable with doctors.

We cannot escape from the important efficiency drivers as our population gets older and innovative new drugs become more expensive. Evidence, measurement and monitoring of variation in clinical care, including with medicines, will continue to be important for the foreseeable future.

However, there are so many opportunities for the whole pharmacy team to support optimal clinical care, and these challenges should be seized and embraced by pharmacy teams in the same way as we have already seen with the introduction of best value biologic medicines.

Andrew Davies

Andrew Davies is Director of Hospital Pharmacy, NHS Improvement.

Having worked for 17 years as a hospital chief pharmacist Andrew became involved in the Lord Carter productivity programme at NHS Improvement in October 2015, becoming the professional lead for hospital pharmacy and medicines optimisation in January 2017 and director of hospital pharmacy in October 2018.

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