Are you attending our PCN Conference on 08 February 2020?
We’re bringing clinical directors and practice managers together to learn from leading experts and their peers and discuss the various and innovative ways primary care networks are developing across the country.
To give you a sneak peek at conference highlights, we talked with one of the key speakers, Michael Lennox, Pharm.D, about his passion for community pharmacy and the work he’s doing to encourage collaboration between PCNs and community pharmacies.
Name: Michael Lennox
Role: Community Pharmacist
Experience in the medical community: Over 30 years
Could you tell us little bit about your background and your work as a Community Pharmacist?
I’ve been a community pharmacist for over 30 years, and I’ve taken on a variety of clinical practice and leadership roles throughout my career. I currently lead the Local Pharmaceutical Committee in Somerset, working with Somerset LMC. At this point of my career, I’m also heavily involved in community pharmacy development policy, primarily as Integration Lead within the National Pharmacy Association (NPA). The NPA is the leading representative voice and support agency for the independent community pharmacy sector, with 6400+ pharmacy contractor members. My role is to support community pharmacies in developing new models of care and new ways of working and connecting and collaborating with primary care networks is at the heart of this.
It sounds like you’re already involved and engaged in PCN development. What has been your experience thus far?
Oh, for sure, I’d say 90% of what I do is PCN oriented! I’ve actually been involved from the very beginning – I foresaw the formation of PCNs way back in 2013, when I was working for a national pharmacy chain, leading on primary care. I started working with the NAPC to see how pharmacy could enable this primary care development. In 2016, I spent two years working with an NHS community provider social enterprise, working on the NHSE Practice Pharmacist Pilot Programme building teams of practice pharmacists to support surgeries across Devon and Cornwall. As a result, I started devising, developing and delivering clinical pharmacy services tailored to General Practice – gaining an in-depth appreciation and understanding of the challenges general practices were facing.
And, I started thinking about how community pharmacists could make a difference in support delivery too. For instance, how can community pharmacies and general practices optimise the end to end process of prescription production? How can patients be better supported with their medicines through the New Medicines Service (NMS) that is incorporated into the national pharmacy contract. Working together in these areas, we found we could optimise ops, reduce frustrations, grow trust and provide better care for our patients together.
I’m pleased to see that pharmacy is now being more thoughtfully baked into primary care development. I really support this idea that we need to work together to build clinical pharmacy systems that improve the lives of the people we’re serving.
What achievements have you experienced in establishing PCN collaboration with community pharmacies?
So, you’ll see me wearing my National Pharmacy Association badge with pride at the conference. The NPA represents the majority of independent pharmacy contractors, and I’m happy to have seen many of these local pharmacies beginning to become integrated into PCN development. Locally agile and autonomous independent pharmacies are a vital part of the care community and PCNs – these early adopters of collaborative working are to be applauded and encouraged!
Also, our new national pharmacy contract has landed, and as part of our Pharmacy Quality Scheme (our version of QOF) we’re focused on forming PCN-mirroring Community Pharmacy Networks with a PCN Community Pharmacy Lead in each one. This CP lead will then act as a point of contact for the PCN clinical directors, enabling and streamlining the points of contact between pharmacy and practice across the entire PCN system.
It seems that NHSE has mandated that PCN clinical directors reach out to their local community providers from April as well, and community pharmacy is one of the key players. This has given us a great sense of direction at the moment and we’re excited about future development with PCNs – though we appreciate that there is much still to sort on the PCN road ahead.
In your opinion, how can PCNs benefit from working closely with a community pharmacy and vice versa?
Even if our collaboration hadn’t been mandated by the PCN-DES and our national contract direction, we would’ve strived for it anyway. Being involved in PCNs is crucial to the development of the care community and the future of pharmacy. Picture this – for every PCN, there are about 10 pharmacies and within those you’ve typically got 15 to 20 pharmacists and around 10 other members of staff per pharmacy! So, community pharmacies bring a patient-caring platoon for delivering healthcare that can be harnessed within the PCN service delivery plans.
One last point – we community pharmacies are everywhere, and you can find us in both the hard-to-reach rural and hardly reached poorer areas of the country. As a rule, where there’s deprivation there are pharmacies, and we stand ready to support PCN outreach to these sometimes more difficult-to-reach communities.
What progress or achievements would you like to see in the local medical community this year?
My vision for the future is to see our developing army of 1,259 community pharmacy networks and leads actively supporting PCNs. For every clinical director, there should be a community pharmacy lead who they can work with one-on-one to build their collaborative network. I want them to be seen as an absolutely vital part of delivery for PCNs – to make a positive difference in the life of the clinical director, the PCN and the lives of the population that they’re serving.
To do this, we need to trust each other, build relationships and find a way to work together. If we can move ahead on this, I believe we will begin to make a real difference – even if it’s simply optimising what’s already in place, making the ineffective more effective, before we begin to invent new ways of delivering our collective population health services.
You’re speaking at the BMA’s PCN conference next month – what advice will you give PCN leads regarding LMC collaboration?
I would hope to persuade and inspire them to positively accept the hand of support from community pharmacies. I think we will be the ones reaching out to collaborate, and I would hope that PCN clinical directors would positively accept that hand of friendship. I also hope that I could inspire them to look at their service delivery and see where our collaborative input could make a difference.
On a personal note, I hope to learn a lot from this conference. I’m really looking forward to networking and building relationships with some real movers and shakers in primary care.
Want to learn more about recent proposals or future opportunities for your PCN?
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