Drug-related deaths in Scotland 2016: How can pharmacy help?

Fiona RaeburnArticle by Fiona Raeburn, Chair, Scottish Specialist Pharmacists in Substance Misuse

This week saw the launch of 2016 data for drug-related deaths in Scotland.

867 deaths have been reported, the highest since data recording began in 1996. The causes of deaths are complex and multi factorial, however, the figures show that drug deaths are more commonly affecting people in an increasingly older age group with multiple significant health problems.  As the profession which is generally in contact with patients most regularly, pharmacists are in a unique position to help. Read more Drug-related deaths in Scotland 2016: How can pharmacy help?

Pharmacist outreach for homeless people

Richard LowrieArticle by Richard Lowrie, Lead Pharmacist Research and Development, Clinical Pharmacist, Homeless Health Service, Pharmacy and Prescribing Support Unit, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

As pharmacists we have a unique, generalist skill set and to access our care, patients do not normally need to go through a gatekeeper or require an appointment. This suits patients who are homeless, who tend to have physical and mental ill health and addictions, and who tend not to access preventative care. Read more Pharmacist outreach for homeless people

Write a winning abstract for conferences

Poster display

Write a winning abstract and submit for our inaugural Winter Summit.

Want to hear about the latest innovations in medicines and pharmacy? Looking to get your M.Pharm project published in an international journal? Interested in a career in academia or pharmaceutical science?

Explore the latest innovations in pharmaceutical science and research and get your work published. Join us for the RPS Winter Summit!

 

A new event in the RPS calendar, the Winter Summit will bring together experts from within pharmacy and pharmaceutical science for a programme of cutting edge topics: big data, drug development and the future of education to name a few.

Submit an abstract

Abstract submissions for oral or poster presentation are welcomed from across the science and research spectrum, so whether you have been working in the lab or on a patient-facing project, we have an opportunity for you.

  • Pharmaceutical science and early stage clinical research will be published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology (Impact Factor 2.405)
  • Health service research and pharmacy practice will be published in the International Journal of Pharmacy Practice

For more information about the submissions process and guidance visit the webpage here

Get help from the RPS in writing your abstract

  • So what is an abstract? An abstract is a concise summary of a project that allows readers to quickly identify its novelty, rigour and potential impact. Writing an abstract is an opportunity to share evidence widely and is a key component of most professional conferences; it is also an excellent starting point for those new to research looking to get their work recognised.
  • Writing winning abstracts. An abstract should be a summary of a project with a clear aim and concise design, method and results with meaningful conclusion.

Join us on September 7th for an instructional webinar to help prepare your abstract. The webinar will review abstract structure and give helpful tips on judging criteria and common pitfalls

Submit your abstract by 5pm GMT on 11 September or book now to secure your place at the Winter Summit 2017.

Measles in South Wales – what you need to know

Jodie Williamson MRPharmS, Pharmacist at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society
Jodie Williamson MRPharmS

by Jodie Williamson MRPharmS, Pharmacist at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society

In June 2017 Public Health Wales announced that there were four confirmed cases of Measles in Newport. By July 24 the number of cases confirmed had increased to 10. This outbreak triggered a rolling vaccination programme in the area, with over 1,000 children receiving the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. This outbreak was caused by the same strain of measles that has affected more than 14,000 people across Europe this year, and has sadly killed 35 people to date.

So what do you need to know about measles to keep you and your family safe?

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness which is passed from person to person via droplets which are released into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus can live on surfaces for several hours and you can catch measles just by touching that surface and then placing your hands near your nose and mouth.

The symptoms of measles are:

  • Cold-like symptoms such as sneezing and a high temperature
  • A Cough
  • Sore, red eyes which are sensitive to light
  • Small greyish-white spots on the inside of the cheeks
  • Reddish-brown blotchy rash which usually appears a couple of days after the other symptoms.

If you think that you or your child may have measles you should contact your GP. It is important to call the surgery before you attend so that they can take steps to reduce the risk of other patients becoming infected whilst you’re there. If you or your child has received two doses of the MMR vaccine or previously had measles then it is unlikely to be measles – there are a number of other conditions with similar symptoms.

 

Treating a measles infection

There is no specific treatment for measles, but there are a number of things you can do to ease the symptoms in ordinary cases.

  • Paracetamol can be used to reduce a high temperature and relieve pain.
  • Closing blinds/curtains or dimming lights can help with sensitivity to light.
  • A sore throat or a cough can be soothed with hot drinks, particularly those containing honey and lemon. It is important to note that honey should not be given to babies under 12 months old.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Wash away crustiness around the eyes with damp cotton wool.

Your local pharmacist will be able to advise you on the best treatment for your symptoms. They will also make sure that any medicines you buy over the counter are safe to take with your regular medication if you take any.

 

More serious cases of measles

Measles usually lasts for 7-10 days and although it is often unpleasant, most cases pass without any additional complications. However, some people can develop serious, and even life-threatening illnesses such as pneumonia and meningitis. Other life-changing complications can include blindness and deafness. Serious complications are more likely to develop in children under 5, children with a poor diet and people with a weakened immune system.

Warning signs of serious complications from measles to look out for include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Sharp chest pain that is worse when breathing in
  • Coughing up blood
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Convulsions (fits)

If you or your child develops any of these symptoms you should go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department or dial 999 for an ambulance.

 

Stop your family from being affected in the first place

The best thing you can do to protect you and your family from measles if make sure that you have all had two doses of the MMR vaccine. The first dose is usually given to babies when they are between 12 and 13 months old, and the second dose is given at 3 years and 4 months, but it is never too late to get vaccinated. If you’re not sure if you have received the vaccine, contact your GP surgery who will be able to check your records.

Embrace technology in order to release time for pharmaceutical care

Article by Norman Lannigan Lead for Evaluation of Automated Technology (EAT) 

The Wilson and Barber review of pharmaceutical care in the community advised that the potential of automated dispensing systems, including robotics, should be evaluated for its potential to release time for more pharmaceutical care. This led to the establishment by the Scottish Government of the Evaluation of Automated Technology (EAT) work stream under the Prescription for Excellence programme, which I was asked to lead. Read more Embrace technology in order to release time for pharmaceutical care

Pre-Registration Exam: Whatever the result, the RPS is here for you

Today, the GPhC released the results of the June 2017 registration assessment. It’s a fantastic time of year where the next batch of pharmacists are beginning their fulfilling career in such a challenging but rewarding industry.

The GPhC Chief Executive, Duncan Rudkin said, “I want to congratulate the trainees who passed this year’s registration assessment and wish them all the best for their future careers. From the first day on our register, pharmacists play an integral role in supporting the health of their patients. The registration assessment helps to make sure that candidates have – and are able to demonstrate – the knowledge and skills to meet this important responsibility.”

Unfortunately, we know that the exams are extremely tough and that not everyone will be celebrating today. This year, 78.2% of trainees passed the exam, which means just over 600 pre-registration trainees having unfortunately, fallen short.

Whatever the result means for you, we want you to know that the RPS is here to support you. We have a number of resources on our website, ranging from essential guides for starting your career, right through to alternative options if you have failed the exam for the third and final time.

If you didn’t pass the pre-registration assessment then don’t panic. The RPS professional support service can be contacted on support@rpharms.com or by phone on 0845 257 2570. Our friendly and knowledgeable team can offer guidance on any issues or questions you might have, and let you know what steps to take.

If you passed then follow these useful links

Essential guides for community
Essential guide for hospital
Essential guide for pharmaceutical industry
Foundation Programme
Mentoring

If you haven’t passed, these links and resources will help you prepare for the next assessment

The latest MEP
The reclassification hub
A-Z resources, which includes a range of Quick Reference Guides
Top tips for preparing for the assessment

If you failed for the third and final time, although you may not be able to register as a pharmacist, you have gained a valuable set of knowledge, skills and experience through your degree and pre-registration training. Many of these are transferrable to other roles and environments. There are many alternative opportunities available to you so do not give up on your career aspirations.

Pharmacist Support outlines some career options in their factsheet, Careers advice and options for pharmacy graduates. This covers pharmacy and non-pharmacy roles that you can consider. Think about all the options available to you and research potential roles to see if they interest you.

Once you have decided on a new career path to pursue, try to arrange work placements in this sector/environment to give you an idea of what the role may be like, and what the day-to-day responsibilities and tasks are.

Tips

  • Consider registering with recruitment agencies
  • Make use of social media such as LinkedIn and Twitter to network and make contacts
  • Highlight the skills and knowledge you have gained to enhance your CV and cover letter when applying for jobs
  • Seek advice from a careers centre or advisor

For more details and the full pass list please visit the GPhC website.

Revalidation for pharmacy professionals

By Nigel Clarke, Chair, General Pharmaceutical Council

Over the past three years, the General Pharmaceutical Council has done a great deal of work on professionalism – how to ensure that the standards we set support professionalism; and, as important, how to assure patients and the public that registrants are upholding these standards and keeping up with their knowledge and skills, and with new developments in the professions.

This work has coincided with a period of change in the pharmacy sector – changes in the healthcare landscape, the role of pharmacy and the expectations placed on pharmacy professionals; and changes in the core knowledge and skills required to deliver safe, effective, person-centred care.

As a part of this effort, we have engaged with members of the profession, with patients, and with other healthcare professionals to hear their views on professionalism, and, in particular, how they can be assured that pharmacy professionals have up-to-date knowledge and up-to-date understanding of issues affecting healthcare, pharmacy and the way care is delivered.    Based on their feedback, and underpinned by the findings in the pilot programme we undertook last year to test our approach, we have proposed to introduce revalidation for pharmacy professionals.   That proposal is the subject of our recent consultation on revalidation.

.    Our approach aims to do away with exhaustive record keeping and ‘tick-box’ exercises – which many registrants felt were no longer fit for purpose, and the public find hard to equate with professional development – and introduce a more thoughtful approach to ensuring that professional development is not just documented, but embedded in practice.    Our proposal incorporates peer discussion, and reflection on the GPhC’s standards for pharmacy professionals and registrants’ individual practice to provide meaningful reassurance to the public that real learning and improvement are taking place.

Among the key changes we are proposing with revalidation are: reducing the number of required CPD records from nine to four; conducting a peer discussion with a colleague or someone who understands your work; and writing a reflective account detailing how you are meeting one or more of the standards for pharmacy professionals. We are also proposing that, rather than ‘calling’ records periodically for review, the GPhC would require them to be submitted annually; with a small sample (about 2.5 per cent) randomly selected for review.

This approach is designed to underpin the professional approach of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, and reflects too the way in which other professions are now engaging in revalidation. It is based upon the view that a consistent pursuit of improvement in practice is the best way to ensure ongoing high standards within pharmacy, and with it greater safety for the public and patients. During our initial pilot, this approach has been widely supported by the professionals who took part.

I would encourage all pharmacy professionals to weigh in with their views on our proposal.  Have there been any points or considerations that we’ve missed?  Are there any changes that we need to make?  Are there emphases that we’ve not properly understood?

And while it is likely that the final plan will not come into effect until 2020, pharmacy professionals can and should begin to prepare themselves now for the inevitable changes that will come from this effort.

As a start, I would encourage all registrants to read the new standards for pharmacy professionals, which sit at the heart of the proposals for revalidation.   Understanding the standards and thinking how they can and should be embedded in practice will be an important best practice to embrace in preparation for revalidation when it comes into effect.

Registrants can also begin to talk about their practice with their colleagues and peers.  The idea of a ‘peer discussion’ may feel daunting at first, but many of our pilot volunteers realised they were already having these kinds of conversations, albeit informally, and that the candid insights and advice they received helped to improve their practice.    So, I would urge you to reach out to colleagues and peers, or perhaps tap into the resources available to pharmacy professionals, such as the RPS Faculty, and start these conversations.

Revalidation will be an important step for the pharmacy sector and for the GPhC as its regulator.   Aside from assuring the public that pharmacy professionals are maintaining high standards of practice and improvement, our revalidation proposal represents our commitment to regulating in a way that is flexible, that supports professionalism and that is fit for today’s pharmacy and healthcare environment.  I look forward to sharing some of the feedback we hear from our consultation when I speak at the RPS conference in September.   I hope to see you there.

Opportunities in community pharmacy

By Valerie Sillito, Community Pharmacist

When I qualified , a long long time ago…. pharmacy was all about supply i.e. making powders, compounding creams by the kg, hand filling capsules and many other arcane activities. If a local GP actually asked me for my opinion I was more likely to have a heart attack, never mind come up with a useful suggestion. Of course the BNF only ran to about a 100 pages and the drug shelves were relatively empty (we didn’t have a drug database as this was the handwriting era!).

So, if you were to ask me then what the opportunities in the future might be I suspect it would have been a very limited list.

Now community pharmacy has come on in such leaps and bounds I hardly recognise myself. To name but a few activities: supply of EHC, NRT, treating UTIs and Chlamydia, CPUS (community pharmacy urgent supply) substance misuse services, flu vaccinations, medication reviews, warfarin clinics and those are just the ones under PGDs (patient group directives). Many pharmacies now also offer private services, i.e. the patient has to pay up front, for travel vaccinations, HPV and meningitis B vaccinations, erectile dysfunction and hair loss treatment to name but a few and a very recent innovation has been a sore throat service with treatment if required.

Read more Opportunities in community pharmacy

How pharmacists can help people with learning disabilities

by Robbie Turner, RPS Director for England

Pharmacy teams in community, primary care and acute hospital settings see many people with learning disabilities.

You may not have attached that label to an individual, but you know that you need to use easy words and short sentences for this person, or take longer to show them how to take their medicines. You will know the people who have complex repeat prescriptions – or you will recognise the family member or support worker who hurries in to collect their medicines.

Pharmacists and their teams need to consider how to best communicate with this diverse group and make what are known as ‘reasonable adjustments’ under the Equality Act 2010 to ensure equality of access to pharmacy services.

to help them feel confident in engaging with this diverse group and gives examples of reasonable adjustments. Read more How pharmacists can help people with learning disabilities

Pride 2017

By Robbie Turner, RPS Director for England

This weekend sees the Pride in London parade taking to the streets of the city with over 300 groups marching to fight for equality of the LGBTQ community.

Having watched the parade many times before I know that it is often seen as a celebration of what the LGBTQ community have achieved over the last five decades since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK. I certainly recognise this progress and as a gay man have always felt proud to be a member of a LGBTQ community which is in the main, welcoming, diverse and accepting of others.

But not every LGBTQ person has the positive experience I do and this can have a significant impact on their health. Research by METRO charity shows that 52% of young LGBT people reported self-harm either recently or in the past, compared to 25% of heterosexual non-trans young people. Also, 44% of young LGBT people have considered suicide compared to 26% of heterosexual non-trans people.

To say that 25 years after I came out, young people are still suffering high levels of abuse, discrimination and mental health issues is hugely upsetting. As a pharmacist, I know that there are always competing priorities on our time and resources. But, over this Pride in London weekend, I will be reflecting on what more I can do to help young LGBTQ people and how the Royal Pharmaceutical Society can support pharmacists to do the same.