Prior to COVID-19 primary care network (PCN) community pharmacy leads (representing a group of pharmacy contractors in their locality) were starting to contact the clinical director for their allocated PCN to discuss how pharmacy services could develop and adapt to help address community health needs.
In many cases progression of this collaboration was hampered by the ongoing demands of the pandemic. Due to the pressures on time, it was important for PCNs to understand how this input would benefit their team and their patients.
To help re-start the conversation, Cheshire Local Medical Committee (LMC) joined forces with Cheshire and Wirral Local Pharmaceutical Committee (LPC) and commissioned some thinking space to facilitate relationship development. The key driver for this work was that the LMC and LPC recognised that functioning PCNs with well-established integrated teams including community pharmacy are necessary to meet current and future population health priorities and deliver health improvement.
In Cheshire the LMC and LPC have a positive and proactive relationship and are looking at more joint work in the future.
The sessions included clinical directors, clinical pharmacists and community pharmacists. Two virtual workshops included a balance of information sharing and facilitated discussion.
The sessions considered the benefits successful collaboration between PCN and community pharmacy teams could bring for patients, families, staff and the two groups of professionals themselves.
Presentations included perspectives from clinical directors and community pharmacy leads on the challenges to overcome to build successful relationships.
Examples of collaboration in action such as the community pharmacy consultation service were shared.
Community pharmacists left the sessions with further ideas for how to engage with their clinical directors including identifying common ground through understanding the population health priorities that PCNs are seeking to address and offering proactive ideas and solutions.
PCN clinical directors were encouraged to initiate a dialogue with their community pharmacy lead, to consider joint opportunities to address local PCN health priorities, promote healthy lifestyles and develop ideas for how community pharmacy can best work in partnership with the PCN.
Towards the end of each workshop the group were asked to identify individual actions to help progress the collaboration in their locality. All were realistic that small steps were necessary given the current pressures on time, but optimistic about what could be achieved.
The LMC and LPC offered continued support to develop the partnership and to share learning and success for the benefit of Cheshire (and Wirral) PCNs.
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