NHS and pharma firms urged to unite for patients' sake

Healthcare PROs have welcomed new guidance that encourages the NHS to work jointly with the pharmaceutical industry to improve pat­ient care.

The Department of Health guidance, released last week, gives advice on how primary care trusts (PCT), pharmaceutical companies and clinicians can work tog­ether to identify particular medical needs in a community.

It cites one PCT that has successfully worked with three pharma companies to identify people with suspec­ted Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

Clew Communications' MD Mary Hicks said: ‘Such partnerships are a move in the right direction and will generate PR opportunities.'

Hicks was confident the partnerships would provide an opportunity for the industry to improve its image. She said: ‘They will help boost the reputation of the pharmaceutical industry and raise awareness of the breadth of expertise that the industry has beyond the unfair perception that it is just making money out of selling pills.'

She added: ‘There are bound to be jibes from titles such as The Guardian that this is disguised sales prom­otion. But these kind of arr­angements will remind people that medical care is a partnership.'

Tonic Life Communications CEO Scott Clark agreed with Hicks. But he added: ‘The Government needs to play a part and not just host the meetings in
ord­er for this to work.'

The guidance sets out rules to advise NHS staff of their res­ponsibilities when working with the pharmaceutical ind­ustry.

It cites East Lincolnshire PCT, which rec­ently wor-ked with AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline and Pfi-zer to identify people with suspected Chronic Obst­ru­ctive Pulmonary Disease, and establish specific clinics.

The programme led to a 23 per cent fall in admission rates for the disease.
Another partnership bet­ween the NHS and the pharma industry is bei­ng pioneered in Nottingham.

Pharma companies taking part in this project include Sanofi-Aventis, Schering Plough and Nov­artis Pharmaceuticals.

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