Better information on patient information leaflets

By Professor D.K Theo Raynor, Professor of Pharmacy Practice, University of Leeds
A new report published by the Academy of Medical Sciences says that medicine information leaflets are too scary with too much focus on the potential side-effects of medicines and not enough on their benefits. The report calls for them to be rewritten to give a more balanced view.

This is a comprehensive and thoughtful report looking at enhancing the use of scientific evidence to judge the potential benefits and harms of medicines. Of particular interests to those working in Pharmacy are the recommendations relating to patient information leaflets (PILs) – found in the pack of every medicine dispensed in the UK. The key recommendations relating to ‘Improving the content of PILs’ are:

• All parties to improve the comprehension and readability of patient information leaflets in line with the current legislation.
• This should ensure a balanced appraisal of the medicine’s potential benefits and risks is made accessible in these documents.

These recommendations echo the recent report for the European Commission on the ‘shortcomings’ of PILs produced by the Universities of Utrecht and Leeds.(1) Not mentioned in the Academy’s report is that for more than 10 years, manufacturers have had to ‘user test’ their PILs with lay people – so they are already ‘revised in consultation with patients and carers’. Despite this testing, further improvements are needed, with a more rigorous application of the user testing process, ensuring that it is iterative – with repeated testing and improvement until the required level of readability is reached. Read more Better information on patient information leaflets

A medicine review is about stopping medicine as much as it is about prescribing

By Dr Mahendra Patel, English Pharmacy Board Member

The RPS has published a joint report with RCGP on polypharmacy “The challenge of polypharmacy: from rhetoric to reality”. The report is a practical guide for the delivery of improved care and increased safety of our patients.

Multimorbidity is perceived as an inevitable consequence of an ageing population, with increasing ‘polypharmacy’ necessary to prevent complications arising from long term conditions.  Patient conditions are often treated individually and they are prescribed medicines accordingly. However, medicines that were once prescribed may no longer be necessary as well as in some instances new medicines may not be required. Pharmacists have a key role in supporting patients to get the most out of their medicines and ensure that they are only taking the medicines that they actually need. Read more A medicine review is about stopping medicine as much as it is about prescribing

Choose Pharmacy

Jodie Williamson MRPharms
Jodie Williamson MRPharms

by Jodie Williamson MRPharmS, Pharmacist at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society

In November 2015 the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Wales claimed that we need 400 more GPs in Wales by 2020 to avert a crisis in our NHS. We are frequently told about the crisis facing GPs. But did you know that many health problems can be resolved without the need for a GP appointment? Your local pharmacist is there to provide advice and support for a number of common complaints and in some cases, they can even provide treatment on prescription or free of charge.

There are a number of pharmacy services available across Wales. It’s worth Find your local pharmacy services, and using your pharmacy as your first point of contact for any non-emergency medical needs. Here’s a round-up of just some of the services on offer across Wales:

Choose Pharmacy

This service has been developed to help relieve pressure on GPs. It gives pharmacists access to a summary of a patient’s GP record, provided the patient gives their consent for them to view it. This improves patient safety and allows pharmacists to treat minor conditions through the Common Ailments Service (CAS). This allows you to see your pharmacist for a long list of common conditions, including hayfever and conjunctivitis, and you will receive advice and any necessary treatment free of charge. It is currently available in more than 220 pharmacies in Wales and the Welsh Government has made funding available to roll it out to all pharmacies in Wales by 2020.

Stop Smoking Services

All pharmacists are able to provide advice and support to those wishing to stop smoking, and in many pharmacies quitting aids such as nicotine patches, lozenges and chewing gum are available free of charge through the smoking cessation services available.

Triage and Treat

If you live in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion or Pembrokeshire, or are even visiting the area on holiday, you can access the triage and treat service. It is available in a number of pharmacies across the West Wales area, offering treatment for a range of low level injuries and potentially saving you a trip to A&E or the doctor. The list of injuries that they can treat includes:
• Minor cuts and wounds
• Sprains and strains
• Eye complaints e.g. sand in the eye
• Removal of items from the skin e.g. splinters or shell fragments
• Minor burns including sunburn.
You can get advice on managing the above injuries from any pharmacy, but this service enables pharmacists to offer additional onsite treatment.

Emergency Contraception

You don’t need to see your GP for emergency contraception (often referred to as the morning after pill). It is available to buy over the counter from most pharmacies, and many pharmacists are also registered to provide it free of charge following a short consultation to make sure it is appropriate for you to take. This will be done in a private consultation room and you don’t need to tell anyone else what you are there for – just ask for a private chat with the pharmacist.
At a time when the NHS is under enormous pressure, think about visiting your local pharmacist first – if they can’t help they will be able to refer you to the best person for your needs.

Research is everyone’s business

By Sonia Garner, Research Support Manager, RPS

Research is a young person’s game, an academic career pathway, something that doesn’t apply to me – to me, a middle-aged pharmacy professional with a background in community pharmacy support.  So it was with some trepidation that I found myself booked into the NHS Research and Development (R&D) Forum Conference in Manchester, May 15-16 2017: not only booked in as a delegate but with a poster presentation and an RPS stand to man.  So how did this come about?

Ten months ago I was appointed to cover a maternity leave position at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) as a Research Support Manager with responsibility for the Research Ready accreditation scheme for community pharmacy. Read more Research is everyone’s business

Hypertension Awareness Month: An opportunity to highlight the role of pharmacy

Maree ToddArticle by Maree Todd MSP, highlighting the issues of patients with hypertension as part of Hypertension Awareness Month and the important role pharmacists play in supporting them. Before becoming an MSP in 2016, Maree was a pharmacist at New Craigs Psychiatric Hospital in Inverness.

This week I held a member’s debate in the Scottish Parliament to mark world Hypertension month.

I was pleased to be able to highlight the condition as a pharmacist turned parliamentarian, particularly since I am co-convenor of the cross-party group on heart and stroke. I wanted to remind everyone that this condition can be diagnosed with a very simple test, and it’s easy to treat. Around 30% of adults in Scotland have high blood pressure. It’s very common indeed. So why do we need to raise awareness about it? Read more Hypertension Awareness Month: An opportunity to highlight the role of pharmacy

How pharmacy can raise public awareness of health issues

by Tricia Armstrong

Community pharmacists have historically been the most accessible healthcare professionals and have successfully taken part in many public health campaigns, such as stop smoking services. In recent years the role of the pharmacist has become more diverse with pharmacists offering more services, such as flu vaccinations. Patients are looking for convenience and accessibility and pharmacists often meet these needs by providing services in the evenings and at weekends. In an article by Anderson and Thornley (2012), the authors discuss the reasons why patients, who are entitled to free NHS flu vaccinations, are prepared to pay for vaccinations because the service is more easily accessible in pharmacies. Read more How pharmacy can raise public awareness of health issues

My cyber-attack week

By Sibby Buckle, RPS English Pharmacy Board

What a week this has been!  On Friday 12 May 2017, IT systems in 47 NHS trusts in England and 13 NHS organisations in Scotland came under attack from a global malicious software attack. Here’s the latest from NHS Digital.

I work in a community pharmacy in Nottingham and first became aware of a problem when the systems of local GP surgeries and hospitals went down.  Over the weekend in the face of the cyber attack, our pharmacy and countless others continued to do what we always do, delivering fantastic patient care, giving advice and dispensing patients medicines in a timely, safe and efficient manner.

Returning to work on the Monday morning, I was bombarded with messages from my dispensing colleagues. The surgeries had been on the phone first thing to confirm that their systems were still down, and even their faxes weren’t working. Read more My cyber-attack week

Strategies for the Summer Exams

Student summer examsby Sabina Rai

The summer exams are almost here, which can be a daunting experience. For me, this is something I can relate to from my first year at the University.

Many aspects of the University are often new to a first year student. For me, it included approaching the exams and the revision. Finding the right learning and organisational strategies that worked for me was a big struggle. Both this and the lack of preparation meant I was very much behind with my revision. As a result of this, the pressure of revision and performing well in the exams increased to more than I had anticipated. However despite the pressure, I was determined to perform well in the exams and I made sure I gave my best till the very end of the last exam. Read more Strategies for the Summer Exams

The 15th Joint Qualified Person Symposium

Robert Smith PictureThe Joint Qualified Person Symposium is themed “The QP in a new world”. It is the 15th Symposium to be held by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Royal Society of Biology and Royal Society of Chemistry.

As a QP, I’m looking forward to attending the upcoming QP Symposium in May 2017. I attended the last symposium in 2015 and I found it a great day for networking with so many QP colleagues and to find out that we all share a lot of common issues and hear how these issues had been dealt with.

This year, I’m particularly looking forward to the sessions run by the MHRA on Annex 16 and serialisation. I’m hoping that we shall hear some real life examples as to the issues the MHRA are seeing with implementation of this recently updated annex.

As the industry gears up for serialisation, it will be particularly interesting to hear about checking packs into databases and what expectations there will be on the QP to verify the data has been properly uploaded.

I am also very interested in the MHRA enforcement group talk. As QPs, we have a great deal of interaction with the inspectorate but very little interaction with the enforcement group. As a pharmacist, I see this as important work. It will be interesting to find out what they do, how it’s done and as QPs, how we may be able to help in the fight to crack down on the illegal trade in pharmaceuticals that have the potential harm to our patients.

Finally, as a speaker at the symposium, I hope you will learn something from my presentation on Transitioning from Traditional Dosage Forms to Advanced Therapeutic Medicinal Products. When I first started working on these products, they were very much seen as the future of treating disease and illness but there were not that many products in research and development and there was little regulatory framework in place. Now we have a regulatory framework and there are quite a few ATMPs showing great promise in the clinic, and there are some products on the market. However, as a practicing QP there is still very little training out there for a QP who wants to transition to these products. The aim of my talk is to show you how I made the transition from releasing traditional dosage forms to ATMPs and hopefully encourage some QPs to embark on a similar journey.

I look forward to meeting you at the symposium.

Robert Smith BSc (Hons), MSc, PgDip, MRPharmS
Director, Smiro Qualitas Ltd

The Joint QP Symposium will be held on 17 May 2017 at Mary Ward House, London WC1. View a full programme of speakers and book online here.

Why NICE accreditation matters

 

We chat to Dr Mahendra Patel FRPharmS, FHEA Fellow of NICE, Vice-Chair Accreditation Committee NICE 2017 and RPS English Pharmacy Board Member about the true value of NICE accreditation and what it means to our members.

“First of all, my heartiest and proudest congratulations to everyone at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), and most importantly to the staff involved in seeing this rigorous process to successful completion with diligence and commitment.

This is very prominently a noticeable mark of international recognition, and what I firmly believe to be gold standard accreditation for the RPS with its processes for developing professional guidance and standards.

This is without doubt a remarkable achievement for the RPS.  To add further context, our process now sits proudly alongside highly credible and hugely respected organisations such as the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) , the British National Formulary BNF) , various Royal Colleges (Physicians, Surgeons, Pathologists, Paediatrics & Child Health, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Anaesthetists), and with some of the world renowned giants in guidance production, the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN), the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), and of course NICE itself. These have all been successfully approved over the years.

As pharmacists we are all scientists, and through research we are able to develop the evidence and translate into practice. Through using trusted and reliable evidence-based guidelines, pharmacists can be well supported in their daily practice to help improve patient outcomes.

RPS members can now be assured of accessing reliable and trusted sources of guidance that have been developed using critically evaluated high quality processes through the RPS. This also means that as the RPS develop new standards, and revise and update existing standards, they will also be permitted to apply the NICE accreditation badge to those (as long as the NICE accredited process manual is followed).

I was pleased to introduce the NICE Accreditation Chair and Programme Director to the English Pharmacy Board Meeting back in 2014, and to highlight to the Board the importance of the RPS in seeking gold standard accreditation by NICE.

Today, I am absolutely delighted that the RPS is now badged with the NICE kite mark.

Finally, the Accreditation programme no longer accept new applications from organisations as of September 2016 but continue to review renewals. In that sense this has been a landmark journey for me both personally and professionally.

I have enjoyed a truly informative and inspiring relation with NICE as a long standing member of its Accreditation Advisory Committee since 2009 and later as its Vice-Chair.”

Read more about the NICE accreditation.