25 Jan 2024

Pharmacy Forecast for 2024

With January off to a cold start, and a busy one, with the Junior Doctors’ Strike heralding the start of the year in hospitals, we asked our CPC advisory board what they thought we could expect from 2024*.

(*Disclaimer: I promised them I wouldn’t refer to their reflections as predictions! If one thing is certain in an election year, it is uncertainty...) 

As a starting point, colleagues reflected that the focus on system leadership and collaboration will continue to be key in 2024. This is multi-faceted and could include a greater mandate for system working on workforce recruitment, retention and training, financial opportunities, or new models of working – for example aseptics hub and spoke. 

On the theme of collaboration, contributors also reflected on potentially seeing strengthened collaboration between pharmacy professionals and wider healthcare providers, similarly on pharmacy professionals playing a more significant role in integrated care – both interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary. We may also see community pharmacy taking more of a centre stage in primary care, with community pharmacies being more involved in public health initiatives such as health screening and vaccinations, and perhaps community education. 

Of course, in order to maximise the impact of such collaboration, we would also see some policy and regulatory shifts around supervision and authorisation, as well as PGDs. Yet more policy and regulatory changes could impact how the pharmacy world works, including independent prescribing and perhaps new powers to the regulator to set professional standards for responsible pharmacists, chief pharmacists and superintendent pharmacists. 

Effective digital transformation is behind a lot of these potential changes too, with online and digital health platforms potentially becoming more integrated into the healthcare system – offering in theory the dual opportunities of convenience for patients and improved health outcomes. Automation and advanced technology could also streamline processes such as inventory management, making efficiencies in operations. 

Pharmacy teams are starting to play a significant role in sustainability too, so it is fitting that we highlight some hopes and reflections that tie in with this – especially as CPC is trying to do its bit for mainstreaming the conversations (and subsequently the actions) on sustainability. 

Prevention is a big theme across the board but was particularly highlighted by contributors as the first and most important principle of sustainability – especially with regard to chronic disease, diet, physical activity, and social and green prescribing.  

Colleagues also reflected that they think they will see more effort on making the healthcare we do need leaner and greener – with deprescribing, waste reduction and elimination of single plastic items as key. They also hoped that by the end of 2024, we will see significant developments in carbon-foot printing of medicines. 

Finally, with regards to teams themselves, contributors hoped to see more planning and use of the Greener NHS travel guidance, and more sustainability content in Pharmacy Initial Education & Training Programmes – in order that the next generation of pharmacy professionals continue the vital work. 

Returning to my opening paragraph, I think it is fair to say that this coming year will be an interesting one, and a busy one. I anticipate a lot of noise on the NHS and healthcare in the run up to the election, which if current murmurings are right, means another potential eight months or so of noise! 

With thanks to Kandarp Thakkar, Yousaf Ahmed, Tracy Lyons and the wider Pharmacy Declares Group for their input which formed the basis of this piece. If you would like to contribute to, or write a piece for this revamped newsletter, please contact me at a.jacobs@closerstillmedia.com