Pharmaceutical Needs Assessment

The pharmaceutical needs assessment (PNA) is a statutory document that states the pharmacy needs of the local population. This includes dispensing services as well as public health and other services that pharmacies may provide. It is used as the framework for making decisions when granting new contracts and approving changes to existing contracts as well as for commissioning pharmacy services. First detailed in the NHS Act 2006 where PCTs were divested with the responsibility for producing the PNA, since 1 April 2013 this responsibility now sits with Health & Wellbeing Boards (HWB).

The NHS (Pharmaceutical and Local Pharmaceutical Services) Regulations 2013, effective from 1 April 2013, require each HWB to:

  • Make a revised assessment as soon as is reasonably practicable after identifying changes to the need for pharmaceutical services which are of a significant extent.
  • Publish its first PNA by 1 April 2015.

National guidance states that the PNA should detail the current pharmaceutical service provision available in the area and where there may need to be changes to this in the future because of changes to the health needs or geographical location of the local population.

NHS England teams are mandated under the same regulations to use the PNA when making decisions on applications to open new pharmacies and dispensing appliance contractor premises.

Local Authorities and NHS commissioning bodies will also use the PNA to inform their commissioning decisions, when commissioning local services from community pharmacies.

Robust, up-to-date evidence is important to ensure that community pharmacy services are provided in the right place and meet the needs of the communities they serve. The PNA has been produced on behalf of the Health and Wellbeing Board, and covers the period 2022-2025.