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The NHS 10 Year Plan - What Does It Mean for Pharma and Pharmacists?

on Friday, 08 February 2019.

NHS England has published its 10 year plan for the future of the NHS. This corresponds to the extra funding (£4.5bn extra per year in real terms by 2023/2024) that it is receiving from the Government...

...and sets out a vision for how that money will be allocated and spent.

The plan is split into seven sections:

  1. A new service model for the 21st century
  2. NHS action on prevention and health inequalities
  3. Quality and outcomes
  4. Workforce
  5. Digitally-enabled care
  6. Efficiency
  7. Next steps (including legislative change)

I found a lot of the plan very positive, particularly the digitally-enabled care. There has been a fear that the NHS has been battling to fund what it needs just to keep still, but what this 10 year plan shows is a real vision for the future to enable the use of technology as well as early testing and diagnosis and personalised care in order to achieve better outcomes. It also focuses on specific areas such as health inequalities, as well as the role of exciting new areas such as genomics.

So what does it say about pharmaceuticals and the role of pharmacists?

There is little about access to medicines or the level of spending on them. That said, it does state that the NHS will try to achieve more value for money on the £16bn it spends on medicines per year. It sees the role of digital technology to help to reduce waste, as well as generics where possible.

In Chapter 6 (efficiency), the plan talks about medicine optimisation and trying to improve on the rate of 50% of patients not taking their medicines as intended. It sees a role for pharmacists to support patients to take their medicines and get the best from them, reduce waste and promoteself-care. NHS England will also look to reduce the prescribing of low-value medicines which are available over the counter, saving £200m per year from the health budget. The plan refers to the latest voluntary pricing scheme to help to ensure access to innovative new medicines coupled with affordability - the industry may take issue with that, given the way it feels that it has been treated harshly in the new scheme, particularly with a high rebate.

There is a role for pharmacists to help with long-term care and use of medicines, but reading the plan as a whole, it seems to be more focused on the role of pharmacists working in GPs' surgeries, leaving continued questions over the role of retail community pharmacy.


There is much to reflect on positively from this plan, including a clear vision and the use of technology and other innovations to improve outcomes rather than just chasing the tail. However, the pharma industry and community pharmacy will both continue to have concerns over their future roles and how much they will be beaten down on price/costs after they have both received a hammering in recent years. Whilst the plan is not negative for pharma or pharmacy, it has to be hoped that the role of the supply of medicines at an affordable price but one that rewards innovation, and the need to support and maintain viable retail community pharmacy as an accessible place where patients can receive easy and efficient care in the community, will both be recognised during the implementation of this plan.

Do you have any thoughts on this plan, and what it means for pharma or pharmacy? Please share your thoughts with Paul Gershlick in our Pharmaceuticals and Life Sciences team on 01923 919 320.

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