A frontline role for community pharmacists

ConservativeHome is running an excellent exrercise to find 100 policies which it will then put to the Shadow Cabinet. Below is my contribution which can be found at ConservativeHome:-

 > Policy summary

The Health Service, and in particular primary care is coming under increased pressure to deliver. An untapped resource – in the shape of the local pharmacist – can and should be used to relieve pressure on an under-delivering NHS.

> Policy explanation

NHS resources are stretched to breaking point. The Government claims that funding is at record levels yet actual health outcomes are failing to show improvements. Money continues to be wasted on bureaucracy and isn't targeted to the areas where it will achieve the best results for healthcare.

People still use NHS services inappropriately. For example, hospital A&E departments are full of people who could be dealt with by their GP in a primary care setting. At the same time, GPs are unable to spend quality time with people who need more specialist care because their surgeries are filled with people who have minor ailments that can be dealt with elsewhere.

People need to take responsibility for their own health to prevent or delay long term illnesses in the future. The under utilised resource is community pharmacy.

Pharmacists are highly skilled professionals – they go through five years of training – they are experts in medicines and have far more knowledge on the subject than any other health professional including GPs. Pharmacists are accessible where people live, shop and work 24/7 and should be the first port of call and entry point to the NHS.  It is estimated that six million people visit pharmacies daily.

With the new pharmacy contract, pharmacists are helping people manage their illnesses and providing support and advice to those with chronic diseases like diabetes, asthma and heart disease. They are already prescribing repeat medicines for patients instead of them visiting the GP every time. Additionally two thirds of patients do not understand their medicines, half of patients stop preventative medication within 1 year, 60% patients forget to take medication regularly and 82% of patients want to know more.

Using pharmacists, patients can be enabled to understand their medicines better – it will save lives, improve health outcomes, empower patients to look after their health better and prevent ill health.

Demands on the NHS are only going to increase over time, It is imperative to use the skills and resources in the NHS as effectively as possible and that means there is the need to get the right professional for the right job.  Pharmacists are an untapped resource in the NHS.

One of their key roles would be to ensure that medicines are being used properly, reducing wastage, increase effectiveness and thereby improve health outcomes.  This would deliver a Win for Govt a Win for NHS and most importantly a Win for patients.

> Questions for ConservativeHome readers

  • Is there a specific financial cost given to a patient visiting their GP?
  • How many GP visits are there per year?
  • How many could be equated as unnecessary and dealt with by a pharmacist?

> Costs

There should be no overall cost as any additional spend, could be redistributed resources and money from secondary care to primary care as improvements to health flow through. 

If you agree with the policy in principle send an empty email to vote@conservativehome.com with "Yes community pharmacy" in the subject line.

 Any comments – feel free to leave them below.

Ming going green

As much as Im loathed to write about the Surreal Alternative I thought it interesting to comment on the plans this country's third party has for its conference in Brighton next month. Clearly they are going to go on the offensive about the environment if you count the number of fringe events organised on the subject.

This is a huge compliment to David Cameron and the efforts I fully support which have put the environment back at the heart of Conservative thinking. The Tories have gone green – and its left Ming and his merry band feeling pretty green – around the gills anyway.

The Conservatives now have to ensure the Environment and Social Responsibility isn't put above all other policies. Yes we care abour recycling AND having safe streets and town centres. We can  talk about law and order AND energy saving measures – one doesn't preclude another. We also have to ensure the environment doesn't become a middle class obession. Its alright pushing energy saving light bulbs -but they need to be affordable to everyone. Personal wind turbines are nicw – but I'm not sure a pensioner could fork out for one. The Conservatives can steal a march on the Lib Dems by ensuring our policies are open to everyone, who can all do their bit, not just those with money.

If we get that right, then Ming is going to get even more green as the electorate comes to realise that to get real green policies embedded throughout all departmental areas, you have to vote blue.


Every cloud has a silver lining

In the midst of rumblings of discontent about the latest changes to candidate selection the party should be over the moon following a recent ICM poll for the Guardian which puts the Conservatives 9 points clear of Labour. If those figures come to fruition at the next General Election, Mr Cameron can expect to pick up the keys to Downing Street.

Now I know it's a long time until an election (probably) but how long has it been since we have been able to say we've had a nine point lead! Great stuff!

Lib Dems Bloggers Bash

The Lib Dems have announced their Conference slogan for their jaunt down to Brighton next month and have settled on, "Trust in people. Make Britain fairer". I think we can expect Ming trying to wrestle the Green agenda back for the Lib Dems, but perhaps that horse has bolted.

One event caught my eye.On Sunday 17th of September there is a Bloggers' Reception. The blurb reads… Lib Dem Blog of the Year Awards…. Come and see the inaugural Liberal Democrat bloggers awards being presented and hear from some top Lib Dem bloggers including, Lynne Featherstone MP.

If Guido isn't invited as an apolitical blogger will that be an awards ceremony of one I wonder?

Awards could include well, Lynne Featherstone and… ummm .. errr…..

We await hearing if Guidos invite is in the post!

Changes to candidate selections

The party today announces further changes to the way Asociations will choose their candidates in a move to make the party more representative.

Take a look at the excellent ConservativeHome site to see what the papers are saying about this move, and for further analysis of what it could mean for party democracy.

Iain Dale has his own take on the changes here.

Do you agree with the changes? Do you think its vital to get more women into Parliament? Is the party only looking at skin deep criteria or does more need to be done to make the party more representative?

 Tell us what you think!

You must love the big beast?

Following on from the interesting interview with Ken Clarke MP, he not only told us that he is responsible for introducing speed humps to the UK, but kindly signed a few House of Commons diaries so that we could auction them off to help fund Tory Radio.

Now who wants to make a bid? Own a piece of political history with a great 2007 diary in House of Commons green.


Email editor@toryradio.com with a bid, or for more details. 

Lee Rotherham answers Tory Radio's questions….

Why do you want to become Mayor of London? 

The system needs to change. New Labour have foisted an extra tier of government on the capital, almost as an afterthought to their experiments in Scotland and Wales. I have the courage to stand up and do something about that. 

What experience you have gained do you think would make you a good Mayor? 

For an abolitionist, I suppose that would be self-restraint! There is a natural tendency in all systems of government for people, once they become elected, to extend their powers and authority. Even under the best of intentions, this leads to more government and more complexity. And more of your tax pounds being taken from your pocket. On a broader level, I’ve worked in and around the political scene for some years now, including in cross-party environments such as the European Parliament. I can see beyond the colour of the rosette and can cooperate with people from all democratic and respectable parties to get the job done. Furthermore, my time in the armed forces has taught me crucial man-management skills under pressure. I also incidentally have two general elections as a candidate under my belt, and plenty of national and international media experience. 

What do you think of the process of selecting the Conservative Mayoral candidate? 

It’s been a bold move. Let’s not forget it’s one of attempting to inject democracy into the process, and to give people a sense of empowerment. While it’s true there have been teething problems, I don’t think you can detract from the decision to try to restore wider participation. What’s also crucially important is that the process allows a season of debate, and for new ideas to flourish. Some will float. Some will sink. Some will deserve to sink without trace! But the Conservative Renaissance needs this debate to take place.   

What makes you stand out above the other candidates? 

Original thinking. There’s no point in Conservatives running for mayor believing they can run socialism better than the socialists. It’s not just the man at the top, Livingstone, who’s at fault over London’s government – it’s the whole structure and the system itself.

What would your top three priorities be? 

1) Slashing needless spending, and taxes2) Ending the bureaucratic meddling, and the duplication with the Government office for London3) Establishing a round table of Borough leaders, in preparation for the abolishment of the whole mayoral structure  

What one decision taken by the current Mayor would you reverse, and why? 

The way in which the Mayor has been taking over so much of the planning process, and usurping the role of the boroughs. 

What is your “big idea” for London? 

We talk as Conservatives of localism. I believe that the current London structure is its nemesis. The system takes powers away from local representatives and hands it to a remote individual, seemingly unaccountable, so that the man in the street feels no sense of ownership of any decisions made.  True localism means abolishing the mayorality and the burden of this tier of government, establishing a borough round table, and devolving decision-making to people more closely in touch with – and responsible before – their communities.  

What are your views on the Congestion Charge? Do you support its extension? 

You mean “Congestion Tax”! No, I’ll scrap it.  

What’s your view on Crossrail?

How do you envisage it being paid for? I looked into this for a previous transport spokesman in the Commons. At the end of the day, it’s a central government decision and should be paid for out of central government funds. But I am very much aware of criticisms that have been made in communities that local concerns have been ridden roughshod over, on such matters as the local impact of spoil being removed by fleets of HGVs.   

If you weren’t standing, who would you like to see as the Conservative candidate for Mayor?

Norman Tebbit

Tory Radio goes for Gold!

In yet another exclusive for Tory Radio, we took the opportunity to chat with A lister, and recently selected candidate for Eltham, David Gold.

In an extremely interesting interview you can hear about the selection process David went through, why he would expand the use of primaries to more selections, and what his plans are over the coming months with regards campaigning.

Click to listen or download

All quiet on the Middle East?

A reader of Tory Radio wrote in asking why the party has been so quiet with regards what is happening in the Middle East. I pointed out that I conducted an interview with Robert Halfon, who put forward the case for what Israel was doing in an extremely measured way. But is the party saying enough on this issue? Let me know what you think. If you want to write an article for publication on Tory Radio, then email editor@toryradio.com