Farah Ali, General Manger and Superintendent Pharmacist at Perrigo’s Learning Pharmacy Warman-Freed in Golders Green, explains why PCN involvement is “not a choice but a necessity” for community pharmacy.
A proactive and passionate approach characterises Farah Ali’s primary care network (PCN) journey to date. The General Manager and Superintendent Pharmacist at Warman-Freed Pharmacy in Golders Green was looking to the future when she became involved in March. “I spoke to some colleagues who had worked with the concept of PCN within their areas and wanted to learn more. I took part in local meetings and knew that I wanted to be part of this new way of working, both for the benefit of my business and my professional development,” she explains. “I also wanted to be informed on the PCN’s place within the pharmacy contract.” And, after investing time attending meetings, educating herself on the PCN structures and roles and actively seeking opportunities to be involved, Farah has earned an appointment as Education and Training Lead on her local PCN.
That community pharmacy is now being counted is vital, she says – if it were not, its unique benefits would not be incorporated into new initiatives, services and patient care. “By being actively part of PCNs, pharmacy can ensure its impact will be seen and heard. Pharmacy should be involved in the decision-making for its local communities and the PCN role is exactly this – to look after the welfare of the community it sits within.”
How could some of the issues Farah describes – lack of funding, variations in service provision, non-integrated working and lack of leadership – be tackled by PCNs? Clarity, organisation and commitment seem to be the foundations. Farah says what the networks aim to provide is “a defined structure with a clinical director and a multidisciplinary team and stakeholders that believe in the vision, have a plan for how to get there and are financially committed to primary care success”.
Joint working between PCNs is also crucial, she adds. “I have made connections with colleagues who are part of other, more established PCNs and I’m taking as much time as possible to stay informed and connected. Even within a few weeks of collaboration I can see that there could be many more advantages to pharmacy, the healthcare system and teams and the community through PCNs.”
What advice can Farah offer to other pharmacists embarking on their own journey? “I’m still learning,” she admits. “But I feel that being part of a PCN isn’t so much a choice but a necessity to the changing pharmacy and healthcare landscape.
“PCNs are not just groups of GP surgeries but networks to deliver better patient outcomes across the whole range of primary and community care providers, of which community pharmacies are a key component.”
And the time she has invested in the project has already proved worthwhile, Farah reports. “I have found the journey so far to be informative, exciting and daunting, but personally and professionally rewarding. Being involved with local initiatives and being able to add value to these is something that reminds me why I have a passion for pharmacy and why I want to make a difference and add value to the health of my community.”
For updates and to tag your pharmacy’s journey, use the hashtag #mypcnjourney