Earlier this month I was lucky enough to be representing pharmacists and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society at the conference of the Welsh NHS Confederation . The Confederation is the body that brings together the organisations that make up the NHS.
First up was the CEO, Helen Birtwhistle. A few weeks ago, Helen reinforced the message that the NHS will fail if it continues to do the same thing with less money, to the National Assembly for Wales. She repeated this again at the conference but this time in front of the Minister for Health and Social Services, Lesley Griffiths, along with a clear message to all politicians that their support will be needed when the difficult decisions have to be made. It was easy to see the subtext.
The Minister responded with a challenge of her own; a room full of the most senior NHS managers in Wales were told that they must meet their financial targets and they must meet their clinical targets. Poor performance will have consequences.
All this points to a real and urgent need for transformational change in the NHS. This supports my own view that changes are needed in the way the NHS supports people in using and understanding their medicines. This is an area where the pharmacy profession can really be utilised to play a vital role.
It remains to be seen firstly if there will be true transformation and secondly, if politicians really will back NHS managers when the difficult decisions have to be made.
Personally, I did get a sense that real change is in the air, but the immediate need for it was best summed up by one of the speakers in answer to a question from the floor about care of the elderly – quite simply, tomorrows elderly are not going to accept the service that today’s elderly receive.