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Homecare must be part of UK health debate, says NCHA

New CEO promises “greater leadership and clearer advocacy”

NCHA conferenceUK homecare will play an active part in the nation's healthcare, as debates continue about how to cut costs and still create more patient-centred care, according to the sector's trade body.

Speaking at last week's National Clinical Homecare Association (NCHA) conference in Birmingham, the organisation's new CEO Dave Roberts announced his commitment to develop the NCHA as an influential voice and to build relationships with the NHS, government and other healthcare stakeholders.

“Few people outside this room are aware that clinical homecare exists and few care if the sector grows or not. My job is to change that and make homecare part of the debate around NHS and how the UK develops its healthcare,” Roberts told the delegates during his first public speech in his new role.

Roberts has form in the area, previously serving as part of Ed Balls' campaign for leadership of the Labour party and as part of the team that lobbied successfully to introduce the HPV vaccine in the UK to protect girls against the causes of cervical cancer.

He explained that his background gives him the experience to deliver the NCHA's aims at a tough time for healthcare in the UK.

“It's challenging because budgets remain incredibly tight and are becoming tighter. There is a great need in the homecare sector for some strong leadership in the sector and some clear advocacy,” he said.

The NCHA's director of communications Richard Huckle expanded on these challenges, noting that companies operating in the UK homecare market see an average net profit margin of just 1 per cent, despite revenues of £1.5bn in 2012 and consistent market growth of about 20 per cent for the past five years.

This environment has led to one NCHA member, US-based Medco, to pull out of the UK market and rescind NCHA membership.

However, Huckle said the future was looking more positive following the recent publication of the Hackett review – a government sponsored-review of NHS homecare medicines in England – and new standards published by the NCHA that provide guidance for companies working in homecare and “further confidence in the robustness of our operations”.

Other positive notes for NCHA members included the NHS' continued budget restraints and need to look for alternative ways to deliver treatment and pharma's re-focused attention on a more holistic healthcare approach to improving adherence – something Huckle is confident homecare can deliver.

It is now up to the NCHA's new CEO Roberts to communicate this confidence his organisation's membership, and it is something he told PMLiVE he expects to deliver.

“People are going to buy into the concept whether you are from left or right, whatever your politics,” he said. “The NHS responds to drivers and what we will be looking to do is to make sure in England that we have a secretary of state who steps up and says this is what we want to be doing and what we want to be achieving.”

“We can deliver medicines to people on holiday or at work. Why should you spend two hours waiting at a hospital pharmacy when [medicines can be] delivered to you when and where you want it? That's what a consumer-driven NHS looks like.”

Roberts intends to deliver this message to a broad range of healthcare stakeholders, including NHS commissioners and providers, pharmacists and the pharma industry.

“What we're looking to do as an association is make sure people are aware of the alternatives that are available and can be commissioned,” he told PMLiVE.

“Part of our role is to work with other organisations out there when we need a strong collaborative approach to work together on a common cause. And that includes the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) and other organisations.”

Article by
Thomas Meek

21st October 2013

From: Sales, Healthcare

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