Two health boards in Wales are considering switching to community pharmacy contractors for the hospital’s outpatient pharmacy

Two health boards in Wales are considering transferring their outpatient hospital distribution to external community pharmacy contractors, prompting accusations of NHS privatisation.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Council and Cardiff Vale Health Board say that external pharmacy contractors can be used to provide outpatient dispensing services in hospital – a model widely adopted in hospitals in England.

But the public service union UNISON opposes the plans. Paul Summers, Wales Head of Health at UNISON, said: “Patient needs will not be the first priority of profit-driven private companies and the privatization of pharmacies could pave the way for privatizations in wholesale of other NHS Wales services.”

He suggested that if the hospital pharmacy was under pressure, the “reasonable” solution was to keep services in-house and recruit more dispensing staff.

In a statement, the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said it was in the “early stages” of exploring opportunities to work in partnership with community pharmacies to provide outpatient prescriptions at its main hospitals – Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor. , Ysbyty Glan Clwyd at Bodelwyddan and Wrexham Maelor Hospital.

“This is not a proposal to privatize our hospital pharmacies,” the statement said.

He added that moving outpatient distribution from the in-house pharmacy to the community pharmacy would free up time for hospital staff to perform other tasks, such as improving distribution on wards and supporting patients on wards. emergency and mental health and elsewhere.

“Currently, patients may have to wait a long time for outpatient prescriptions,” the statement continued. “A dedicated outpatient dispensary, run by a partner specializing in community pharmacy services, would significantly reduce wait times and provide outpatients with a better overall experience.”

Meanwhile, the Cardiff Vale Health Board said it was offering to provide outpatient care with a “third-party partner” at two of its hospitals – Llandough University Hospital and University Hospital of Wales.

“By working collaboratively and involving our specialty pharmacists to provide education and information on clinically complex prescriptions, the new service delivery model will improve wait times, enable the ability to deliver medications closer to patients’ homes patients and free up staff to work face-to-face with the patient in service areas,” he said, adding that the move would also help reduce “turnaround times and improve the quality of communication when patients are discharged from the hospital”.

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