Our ‘pioneer’ pharmacists celebrate success and look forward to providing more health care services to south east Londoners

28 Mar 2024
NHS South East London

South east London’s chief pharmacist, Vanessa Burgess was guest of honour at a special event at Coin Street, Waterloo, celebrating 24 pharmacists who’ve completed leadership training to help transform community pharmacy across the region (19 March).

The pharmacists have all finished the new pharmacy leadership programme, funded by the south east London Integrated Care System (SEL ICS), to become Community Pharmacy Neighbourhood Leads (CPNLs) for their respective localities.

They are now tasked with helping to integrate primary care more successfully by encouraging GP practices to refer more patients for treatment at pharmacy and bringing high street pharmacies into alignment with each other.

SEL ICS is backing the CPNL programme after a successful pilot scheme in Lambeth enabled GPs to transfer an average of 1,600 appointments – 37 per cent of their case loads – to community pharmacy, freeing up space at their surgeries for urgent appointments, and increasing choice and access to a wider range of care for south east Londoners.

As an early adopter of the CPNL programme, SEL ICS now leads the field in the drive to have more highly skilled pharmacists who can be vital links between GPs and pharmacies and help ensure that more people can get access to treatment, as well as to health monitoring and prevention services, on their local high streets.

Speaking at the event, Dr George Verghese, a GP Partner at Waterloo Health Centre explained how he sees community pharmacy enhancing general practice and healthcare provision:

“We’ve talked about care on the high street, care closer to people’s homes and I think ultimately that’s where their strength lies.  And working in a hub and spoke model around general practice and other forms of primary care is really going to be invaluable.”

SEL ICS’ chief pharmacist, Vanessa Burgess paid tribute to community pharmacists, the professional services they offer, and the difference they can make to improving health outcomes for residents in the future:

“One of our challenges we’ve been working on for a number of years is how do we make primary care really mean primary care.  But the untapped potential in reducing inequalities, in delivering population health and access to care, the walk-in, the opening hours.

“People can just walk in and see a health professional straight away and get that advice, get the guidance, get the services that they can offer, it’s just phenomenal, so you should all be really proud.”

Greenwich CPNL, Patricia Ojo, who is pharmacist proprietor of Stevens Pharmacy said:

“Community pharmacy is a front door to the NHS.  We have been for a long time… We triage patients, we carry out referrals but now we’re actually offering clinical services within the communities that we’re serving.”

Raj Matharu, who is CEO of Community Pharmacy south east London, summed up the improvements that initiatives like the CPNL programme are making to the provision of healthcare on the high street:

“Personally, I think we’re on the cusp of a revolution in community pharmacy, not only because of Pharmacy First but also because in two years’ time we’re going to have independent prescribers within community pharmacy, and I think that will change the way patients use community pharmacy.”

Watch the video from the CPNL event for more information about the future of the service in south east London.