How can community pharmacy and general practice work better together?


By Howard Duff, Director of RPS’s Team England

Both professions operate under nationally arranged contracts which seem to be looking to achieve two different outcomes. There are many good reasons why pharmacy has benefited from this national approach and we believe that some things must remain nationally organised. However the NHS is different place today than it was when the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework was introduced many years ago.

The Five Year Forward View (FYFV) presents both the case for change and a blueprint for its trajectory. It signposts the way forward and as a profession we must “go with the flow” and not “swim against the tide”. By that I mean that the FYFV describes ways that changes will be supported to happen in the NHS. These are locally driven and they are expected to be initiated and taken forward by local leaders. We need those local leaders in pharmacy to step up and make this change happen in a way that includes the role of pharmacists. I believe that this will both improve patient care and also help to make the NHS more efficient. If we are not alert to the local change agenda then I fear that pharmacy will be left behind.

The mechanisms for change that can include community pharmacy are the multispeciality community providers, primary and acute care systems and better care for patients in care homes. These have been well documented in the press and they provide plenty of scope for community pharmacy involvement. Ah yes but it’s hard, I can hear people saying, we tried to get involved but this was an issue or that was too problematic. Or we were described in the vanguard bid but it’s proving hard to get through the co-commissioning issues to get the service off the ground. I understand all of these things and I must praise those who have managed to overcome the barriers and put community pharmacy onto the FYFV map.

This is not right though is it? Neither is it good enough. We are the third largest healthcare profession, we manage over £8 billion worth of NHS investment in medicines and yet it seems unbelievably difficult for us to help out the struggling NHS and help provide excellent patient care. The RPS English Pharmacy Board wants to facilitate making the inclusion of pharmacist-led care through community pharmacy easier. We want to promote it to other professions, patients and importantly commissioners. We need your help and support to do this – so respond to our consultation and tell us how you think patient care can be improved.

You can take part in our consultation through the RPS website. Read the ‘improving patient care through better general practice and community pharmacy integration’ consultation document and respond with your comments using the consultation form.

Howard Duff, Director of Team England, The Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

Follow: @HowardDuff

Recently Qualified and Want to Locum? Read this first.

Daniel 150With the pre-registration year drawing to a close and many new names appearing on the register, newly qualified pharmacists such as myself are thinking about the next steps to take in our careers. After finishing the pre-registration year many pharmacists choose to become locums; this can be a great way to experience lots of different pharmacies, from small independents to large multiples. The locum lifestyle has many benefits, and for newly qualified pharmacists it is an ideal way to rapidly expand our ever important CV. Taking the initial plunge can be a little daunting, with so many things to consider, from choosing the right agency to preparing for your first shift it can be difficult knowing where to start; fortunately there is ample support available to help make this process far more straightforward. Read more Recently Qualified and Want to Locum? Read this first.

Why CMS is the future for community pharmacy


By Johnathan Laird, MRPharmS, Pharmacy Manager from Turriff, Aberdeenshire and Scottish Finalist in the I Love My Pharmacist competition. You can follow Johnathan at @JohnathanLaird.

In my view, the chronic medication service (CMS) is a necessary step towards securing a future role for pharmacists within the community pharmacy setting.

There are two sides to CMS. There is the repeat supply of medicine via serial prescriptions, and the clinical side of the service in which community pharmacists provide pharmaceutical care for the patient. Both have merit. However, neither side has reached its full potential yet. Read more Why CMS is the future for community pharmacy

Will the Malaria Vaccine Save the Lives of African Children?

Colin Cable

By Dr Colin Cable, RPS Assistant Chief Scientist

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted to humans as a result of bites from infected mosquitos. Currently, the control of malaria centres on prophylactic measures mainly to prevent mosquito bites such as using mosquito repellent, covering the arms and legs and using mosquito nets while sleeping as well as taking antimalarial tablets. In the event of an infection by the malarial parasite, the antimalarial tablets should kill the parasitic although increasingly, just as with antibiotics and bacteria, the parasite is becoming resistant to many of the currently available antimalarials.

Despite all these possible precautions, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that, each year, malaria kills over half a million people, with about 90% of deaths occurring in Africa, mainly in children, mostly under the age of 5 years. The reason for these large numbers of deaths is simple – the costs of the preventative measures are too high. So, for many years researchers have searched for a cheap and effective vaccine to protect the vulnerable against the malarial parasite.

Recently, after many years of research, in July this year a vaccine (the first against a parasite) received a positive assessment by the European Medicines Agency. This approval was in spite of the vaccine having only limited efficacy in children, and the need for 3 doses plus a booster dose – something which will prove a major challenge in Africa. However, in spite of these drawbacks, this vaccine has the potential to save the lives of many African children. WHO is currently considering how to best use the malaria vaccine in Africa to save as many children’s lives as possible. A decision is expected in October.

The RPS will be hosting a Science Café at the PharmSci 2015 conference where the motion to be debated is ‘This House believes that the World Health Organisation must make vaccination against malaria compulsory for all children in Africa’. Come and hear what Prof Yvonne Perrie, MPharmS, has to say in support of the motion and the arguments against from Prof Don Cairns, MRPharmS,. If you were living in Africa, how would you feel if your child was forced to have this new malaria vaccine? If you have views or opinions you would like to share on the use of the malaria vaccine, come along to what should be an informal but lively debate at 0815 on Tuesday 8 September at the PharmSci 2015 conference at the East Midlands Conference Centre in Nottingham.

If you wish to register for the PharmSci 2015 Conference, you can do so at:

Why the Scottish Seminar is necessary for change


By Johnathan Laird, MRPharmS, Pharmacy Manager from Turriff, Aberdeenshire and Scottish Finalist in the I Love My Pharmacist competition. You can follow Johnathan at @JohnathanLaird.

In Scotland, change is a word that has resonated politically in recent months and years. Whatever side of the political spectrum you find yourself on the one thing that is probable is that your level of engagement is greater than before.

If you have not already heard, in Scotland we have a vision for pharmacy called Prescription for Excellence. This is a vision for pharmacy that puts a firm emphasis on professional innovation and partnership to deliver the best possible pharmaceutical care for patients. Read more Why the Scottish Seminar is necessary for change

Seven essential services for Recently Qualified Pharmacists

Daniel Sutcliffe

After finishing the pre-reg exam and joining the register I took some time to relax and reflect on five years of hard work. Becoming a recently qualified pharmacist is an exciting time in your career, a great many doors are suddenly opened for us and the opportunities available are endless.

It’s always good to have access to additional support to help navigate the various obstacles and opportunities that present themselves along the way. Fortunately membership of the RPS brings with it many benefits, which are especially relevant for us recently qualified pharmacists. I’ve complied the various resources I’ve found most useful to form a list of seven essential services in the hope it will help you.

Read more Seven essential services for Recently Qualified Pharmacists

Now is the time to stand out! Why students should attend the RPS Annual Conference

Yasmin blogYasmin Bayatpoor, pharmacy student.

We all know that one of the main and most asked questions in summer placement and pre-reg interviews concerns recent healthcare news and events in pharmacy. RPS conferences are the main way to demonstrate your enthusiasm and engagement with this almost guaranteed topic.
Read more Now is the time to stand out! Why students should attend the RPS Annual Conference

Prescribing for people with learning disabilities must change

Sandra Gidley 3by Sandra Gidley, Chair, English Pharmacy Board

Early last week three separate reports from the Care Quality Commission, Public Health England and NHS Improving Quality were released and painted a poor and depressing picture of the level of prescribing of antipsychotics and antidepressants in those with learning disabilities.

Following the release of the reports, I co-signed, on behalf of the RPS English Pharmacy Board, a letter from NHS England stating that the scale of the problem was unacceptable and that an emergency summit was being arranged to agree how to tackle the problem. The letter was also signed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Royal College of Nursing. Read more Prescribing for people with learning disabilities must change

Pharmacists working in GP practices: mythbusting

howard-duffby Howard Duff, RPS Director of England

Talking to pharmacists during a C&D Twitterchat today about pharmacists working in GP surgeries was a great experience.  It also revealed some of the misunderstandings that exist about this innovative development in primary care. I’d like to set the record straight, so here are the top 5 myths I hear frequently about this topic and my answers to them. Read more Pharmacists working in GP practices: mythbusting

Interview with Sandra Melville, previous Chair and departing Scottish Board Member

Sandra MelvilleSandra Melville MSc, FRPharmS, FFRPS joined the Scottish Pharmacy Board in 2007, becoming Chair in 2008. During her time on the board, Sandra witnessed seismic changes to Scottish pharmacy, including the creation of the devolved Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Scotland and the introduction of Prescription of Excellence. Last month she supported RPS Scotland by giving evidence on Seven Day Services at the Health and Sport committee. Our director, Alex MacKinnon, interviews Sandra as she leaves the board to continue her work in hospital pharmacy in Oban. Read more Interview with Sandra Melville, previous Chair and departing Scottish Board Member