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Health Act 2009

Section 25:  Pharmaceutical needs assessments

286.Section 25 inserts section 128A in the NHS Act which creates a new duty for all PCTs in England in respect of their assessments of pharmaceutical needs, commonly known as pharmaceutical needs assessments.

287.Section 128A(1) requires PCTs, in accordance with regulations, to undertake assessments of needs for pharmaceutical services in their respective areas and to publish a statement of their first assessment of those needs and any subsequent revised assessment.

288.Section 128A(2) requires regulations to make provision for certain matters relating to the procedures which PCTs must follow when undertaking their pharmaceutical needs assessments. Regulations must stipulate—

  • the minimum information requirements which each pharmaceutical needs statement must contain;

  • the extent to which the pharmaceutical needs assessment is to take account of likely future needs for pharmaceutical services;

  • the date by which each PCT must publish their first assessment; and

  • the circumstances in which a PCT must undertake a new assessment.

289.For example, the regulations might stipulate that a pharmaceutical needs statement must contain information on the demography of the people in its area and any seasonal trends or variations as well as longer-term population projections and age profiles. It might also, for example, stipulate that PCTs must publish their first statement within six months of the regulations coming into force and that they must undertake a new assessment where important new health data, trends in disease or evidence of the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of certain types of service emerge.

290.Section 128A(3) enables regulations to provide for additional matters or make provision relating to pharmaceutical needs assessments. The additional matters may include the kinds of pharmaceutical services which the pharmaceutical needs assessment must relate to, for example, the provision of certain services such as reviews of patient medication, clinical support for patients starting medication to treat a long-term condition, advice and information to patients or other healthcare professionals. The regulations may also impose requirements on PCTs to consult specified persons about specified matters when undertaking their pharmaceutical needs assessment. The PCT may for example, be required by the regulations to consult local authorities, patient and community groups and local professional representative committees. The regulations may also prescribe the manner in which an assessment is to be made. The regulations may require the PCT to show, when publishing its pharmaceutical needs statement, how it has consulted interested parties. The regulations may also include a range of matters which a PCT must have regard to when making an assessment of pharmaceutical needs. Such matters may include for example—

  • data on future disease trends;

  • population forecasts;

  • information on health concerns which may be specific to the PCT (such as asbestosis in mining areas); and

  • how the PCT has taken into account the views and comments received as a result of consultation, whether it has accepted or rejected those views and, if rejected, the reasons why.

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