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PNA handover to H&W boards must start now

Future public health service delivery will be undermined unless urgent action is taken to kick start the handover of the management of Pharmaceutical Needs Assessments from PCTs to Health and Wellbeing Boards, warns Gianpiero Celino, Consulting Practice Lead at Webstar Health.

Posted: 23 February 2012

The Health & Social Care Bill 2011 proposes that responsibility for Pharmaceutical Needs Assessments should transfer from PCTs to Health & Wellbeing Boards. The timeline is short and the outcome for the Bill is uncertain but Celino said, “With only a year to hand-over to Health and Wellbeing Boards, this process needs to start now.”

Pharmaceutical needs assessments have been used by the NHS to plan and deliver local pharmacy services focused on public health since 2005. Pharmacies now play a key role in local Stop Smoking, Drug & Alcohol and Sexual Health services. But pharmacy representatives say current Pharmaceutical Needs Assessments are falling short of the required ‘mark’. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has told the Department of Health: “Currently, the content and value of PNAs is variable as is the process that is undertaken to produce the PNA… this could result in variability of pharmaceutical services and access to these in different localities.” 

Celino said he believes an early casualty of poor Pharmaceutical Needs Assessments could be the new Department of Health Public Health Outcomes Framework. He said: “The new Department of Health Public Health Outcomes Framework sets out a clear challenge to commissioners of public health services to put robust plans in place to protect and improve the health of local populations and ensure that the needs of the whole population are driving local clinical commissioning. Without a robust Pharmaceutical Needs Assessment the progress that has been made in commissioning local pharmacy services to meet the needs of local populations will be lost.”

Webstar Health has over 10 years’ experience of managing change in the NHS, including support for over 20 PCTs in preparing Pharmaceutical Needs Assessments. Celino’s warning about kick starting the transfer of PNAs to Health and Wellbeing Boards follows publication of the Department of Health’s Public Health Outcomes Framework in January. The Framework’s ambition is for public health to be measured against 66 health measures “so councils and the Government are able to see real improvements being made and take any action needed.”

From April 2013, councils will be given a ring-fenced budget – a share of around £5.2 billion based on 2012/13 funding – and will be able to choose how they spend it according to the needs of their population. Those who make the most improvements will be rewarded with a cash incentive.

Norma Beavers, Editor, Primary Care Today
23 February 2012