NPC Archive Item: Developing Pharmaceutical Needs Assessments – A practical guide

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28th July 2009

In July 2009 the guidance Developing Pharmaceutical Needs Assessments – a practical guide was published by NHS Employers in consultation with a range of stakeholders to support Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in the development of their Pharmaceutical Needs Assessment (PNA). This guidance should be used in conjunction with the January 2009 guidance Pharmaceutical Needs Assessments (PNAs) as part of World Class Commissioning, also produced by NHS Employers.

Since the publication of the white paper, Pharmacy in England: building on strengths – delivering the future the government has published the Health Bill 2009 which contains proposals to govern the content of PNA. Subject to parliamentary approval, regulations with detailed content will then be prepared. However, prior to this the NHS needs to improve the quality of PNAs for 2009/10 as part of the next commissioning cycle, and to inform existing and future commissioning plans. PCTs must therefore develop their PNAs before the regulations are published.

The guidance Developing Pharmaceutical Needs Assessments – a practical guide builds on a toolkit published by the National Primary and Care Trust Development Programme (NatPaCT) in 2004.

In 2004/05 all PCTs in England were advised to develop a PNA in preparation for the new Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework and the reform of control of entry regulations. The white paper, Pharmacy in England: building on strengths – delivering the future identified considerable variation in the scope and quality of PNAs. In addition, some had not been updated or renewed to take account of changing circumstances.

Developing Pharmaceutical Needs Assessments – a practical guide has been developed and structured around 5 steps, with 21 individual supporting guides, to provide support and advice to PCTs undertaking or updating a PNA. The guidance is not intended to be prescriptive. It provides a good framework to help PCTs to develop a PNA for their local population. It will also help PCTs to start thinking about the kind of things that the new legislation will require them to do.

The 5 steps are:
Step 1 – Getting the engagement right (Chapter 2)
Step 2 – Identifying local needs (Chapter 3)
Step 3 – Mapping current provision (Chapter 4)
Step 4 – Shaping the Future (Chapter 5)
Step 5 – Action Planning (Chapter 6)

What does this mean to medicines management?
The PNA has to be integrated into the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment and the overall commissioning process, ensuring that key providers of medicines management services, such as community pharmacy, play an integral part in the negotiation and development of medicines management services in the PNA process. This will help to target resources towards specific local medicines management needs, both now and in the future, and focus decisions on local priorities using the resources available. National NHS priorities, currently set out in 2 key documents: High Quality Care for All: NHS Next Stage Review final report (Darzi review); and The Operating framework 2009/10 for the NHS in England., must also inform the PNA process in each PCT area.

Joint working partnerships of PCT medicines management teams with Local Pharmaceutical Committees, Local Medical Committees, practice based commissioners, pharmacy providers, patients and the public, and other stakeholders will help to improve the understanding of medicines management issues and spread awareness, as well as improve local communication networks.

How does this relate to other publications or evidence?
The NPC Guide, Moving towards personalising medicines management (April 2008) focuses on the design and delivery of medicines management services. It is written for commissioners and providers as a tool to support the development of more personalised services for patients. In addition the NPC sections on community pharmacy development and commissioning may be of particular use for those wishing to find out more.

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