Board launches Pharmacy Needs Assessment Model consultation
The Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) has launched a consultation process on a Pharmacy Needs Assessment benchmarking tool.
Community pharmacies play an important role, not only in the supply and dispensing of medicines, but increasingly in providing a first point of contact with the health service.
The arrangements for controlling where community pharmacies operate are strictly regulated. In order to meet the demands of an aging population, whose requirements are additionally impacted by different health and socio-economic factors, the location and distribution of pharmacies to meet the needs of local communities is of crucial importance.
As part of the process to understand the needs for pharmacy services, the HSCB engaged with a range of user groups to determine how community pharmacies are used and this found that:
- Amongst a range of valued services, the dispensing of medicines is the most frequently used service from community pharmacies.
- Access to a pharmacy within a 15 minute travel time was considered reasonable.
- Users reported being satisfied with Pharmacy opening hours
- Various factors relating to access were noted as being important e.g. transport, distance and mobility.
The HSCB has developed a Pharmaceutical Needs Assessment (PNA) model which is now subject to public consultation. The aim of the model is to better enable decision making within the current regulatory frameworks around the provision of pharmaceutical services relative to need in localities.
This involved the development of a tool that can be used to assess need and provision of pharmaceutical services in defined localities, as well as facilitating benchmarking analysis.
The aim of the consultation is to seek views on the factors that have been identified and how these have been constructed within the model, to enable the establishment of pharmaceutical need within localities.
Joe Brogan states, “Every day across Northern Ireland, an estimated 123,000 people use community pharmacy services. It is vitally important that we have a service that is able to continue to meet the needs of changing population demographics. We welcome views from all individuals and organisations in helping us inform the continued development of a community pharmacy service which is resilient and able to meet the needs of patients.”
This is a public consultation and a number of Zoom sessions are being organised. Members of the public and interested parties are encouraged to participate and can register interest at: PNAconsultation@hscni.net
To respond to the survey, please see https://consultations.nidirect.gov.uk/hsc-new-models-of-prescribing/consultation-on-the-pharmacy-needs-assessment-ques/
- The provision of pharmaceutical services in the health service is currently regulated by the Pharmaceutical Services Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1997. For most pharmacies, the majority (typically 80%) of income is derived from health service dispensing, carried out under the Terms of Service specified in the Regulations. Since 1 July 1987, control of entry onto the list has been controlled by the criteria set out in Regulations. Specifically the applicant must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Pharmacy Practice Committee (PCC) of the HSCB that the pharmaceutical services they intend to provide are ‘necessary or desirable’ to secure adequate pharmaceutical services in the neighbourhood.
- The aim of the Pharmaceutical Needs Assessment (PNA) was to carry out an assessment of current need for pharmaceutical services relative to the current levels of community pharmacy service provision across NI, taking various factors into account like patient demographics, geography, population health and socio-economic status. A key objective was to develop a tool that can be used to assess need and provision of pharmaceutical services in bespoke defined localities and which could also facilitate benchmarking analysis.
- Prior to the development of the modelling too, an extensive stakeholder engagement exercise was carried out. This included a public survey which was distributed to over 12,000 contacts and promoted online. From July to December 2019 a series of targeted Focus Groups were held with relevant stakeholders including professional bodies and 15 user groups across urban and rural locations. Further engagement sessions were also held with Local Commissioning Groups. All of this engagement helped shape the modelling and research work which was subsequently undertaken.
- Further public consultations have been organised for 9 September @ 2pm, 15 September @ 7pm and 30 September at 11.00am. These will be promoted via social media.
- This public consultation closes 30 November 2021
- The full PNA report, summary document and consultation report can be found at the following link: Pharmacy Needs Assessment (PNA) – HSCB (hscni.net)