General Election 2019 – A bright future for pharmacy?

By Sandra Gidley, RPS President

The NHS has become a key political battlefield and is featuring prominently in party political manifestos. With the election just a week away, what’s being promised by the parties and what does the future hold for pharmacy?

No crystal ball

We want to ensure that the role of pharmacists and the wider profession in delivering safe and effective healthcare becomes a central tenet of health policy. Our manifesto sets out some of our key campaigns such as patient safety, medicine shortages and growing pressures on the workforce.

We want the next UK Government to invest in pharmacy to maximise its contribution to healthcare. We want to see patient access to medicines secured in a complex global market and a clear future relationship with the EU (and the rest of the rest of the world) to make this happen.

Greater investment in the training and education of pharmacists is also vital. We have made it clear that this should be a key element of any future workforce strategy. We also want to ensure that patients benefit from advances in medicines and therapies. With growing pressures on workforce, the next government must expand health and wellbeing support to pharmacists and all health professionals delivering NHS services.

Positive signs

The political party manifestos offer some hope in achieving our calls to action and for delivering on key issues that we have long campaigned for. Our call to scrap prescription charges in England in line with Scotland and Wales is being echoed in the current political battles. Recognition of the pharmacy workforce across the NHS and particularly in primary care has emerged as a key health policy issue. Acknowledgement of evidence-based medicines and harnessing the potential of new medicinal products is also featuring in political dialogue in the run up to the election.

For further information about the pledges being made on healthcare by the main political parties, please see our handy summary guide.

Your voice counts

The clock is ticking but there is still time to have your voice heard. Why not encourage election candidates to show their support for pharmacy by using the RPS general election toolkit? Get in touch with your local candidates and invite them to a pharmacy visit to discuss the future role of pharmacy. You could also get involved in the social media conversations about the election, look out for #votepharmacy.

This election is a vitally important one. It is crucial that the main political parties back and support pharmacists and pharmacy services. As a pharmacist, please do make your voice heard and together, lets create a bright future for pharmacy.  

General Election 2019 – The Party Manifestos

by Jonathan Bisby

Like with any general election, the NHS is always a key battleground. Promises on healthcare from the political parties in their recently published manifestos has grabbed headlines as they attempt to secure votes. Here are some of the main manifesto promises that the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and other parties have made during this year’s election campaign:

Funding

Conservatives

  • £34 billion extra funding a year for the NHS by 2023-24
  • £750 million a year funding to provide 50,000 more nurses in the next parliament
  • Maintenance grants of between £5,000 and £8,000 a year for student nurses

Labour

  • A pledge to spend £28 for every pound that the Conservatives have pledged
  • Increase expenditure across the health sector by an average of 4.3% a year
  • A promise of a ‘lifetime cap’ on personal contributions towards care costs

Liberal Democrats

  • £7 billion additional funding to the NHS
  • A penny on income tax for the NHS and raise £35bn to spend on the NHS and social care
  • Bursaries for nursing students studying specialties where shortages are most acute

Access to services and medicines

Conservatives

  • Upgrades on six hospitals by 2025 and a commitment to start building new ones over the next decade
  • Free hospital parking in England for NHS staff and some patients
  • A commitment to make the UK the leading global hub for life sciences after Brexit and to work collaboratively internationally and with the EU on scientific research, including Horizon

Labour

  • Abolish prescription charges in England
  • Establish a generic drug company to improve fair prices on medicines
  • They have promised to stabilise overstretched A&E departments and improve stroke, heart disease and cancer survival rates by providing earlier diagnosis and improved screening rates
  • Progress the clinically appropriate prescription of medicinal cannabis

Liberal Democrats

  • £10 billion capital fund to upgrade facilities and equipment in hospitals and NHS buildings
  • A pledge to increase mental health services and provisions and reduce waiting times for these services by reforming the Health and Social Care Act and end what they call automatic tendering of health services
  • They will increase access to medicinal drugs on prescription, such as medicinal cannabis, drawing on international evidence to establish a clear evidence base for research in the UK

Workforce

Conservatives

  • A commitment to increase the number of GP posts from 3,500 to 4,000 from 2021/22 and create an extra 50 million appointments in general practice by 2024/25.
  • NHS Visa for trained nurses and other health professionals coming into the country to make it easier to enter, but no similar pledge to social care
  • Delivery of the NHS People Plan with a commitment to recruit 6,000 more health professionals into primary care, which includes pharmacists, retain skilled workers within the current workforce and improve staff morale

Labour

  • Pledge to ensure that community pharmacy is supported
  • They will increase of 5,000 fully qualifies GPs into the NHS
  • Create an NHS working environment that is ‘safe, flexible and free from harassment, bullying or violence’

Liberal Democrats

  • Retain free movement of workers by preventing the UK from leaving the European Union and supporting the current European GP workforce and attract more GPs to work in this country
  • End the shortfall of GPs by 2025, pharmacy was mentioned as a profession which they will make greater appropriate use of
  • Expand GP training places to 5,000 by the end of the next parliament

The Scottish National Party is calling for the next government to invest significantly in the NHS and have promised to boost Scotland’s budget for the NHS by £4 billion over the course of the next Parliament. They will also introduce the NHS Protection Act, which they say will protect the health service from any future trade deals in Scotland.

In Wales, Plaid Cymru are planning for an overhaul of healthcare and have pledged to provide 1,000 extra doctors, 5,000 nurses and 100 dentists to be trained and integrated into the Welsh NHS. They are also calling for free social care at the point of need for elder people in society, estimating that this will cost the Welsh Government £300 million a year. A 5% increase pledge in mental health spending over the next decade is also a significant announcement.

The Green Party have also announced that they will increase funding to the NHS by at least £6 billion each year until 2030 and ensure that mental health care is put on an equal footing with physical health care. They will add a further £1 billion a year into nursing education, as well as reinstating nursing bursaries for students.

We are calling for the political parties to support pharmacy. Take a look at the RPS General Election Toolkit and our general election blog. This is an opportunity for you to have your say and help make the voice of the profession heard.

The future is accessible

by Helen Reilly, Head of External Relations, RPS in Scotland

This International Day of People with Disabilities, I attended Inclusion Scotland’s The Future is Accessible 2019 event on behalf of RPS. I wanted to find out about the practical things that employers can do to help reduce the disability employment gap.  

In Scotland, data shows that in 2018 the employment rate for those classed as disabled under the Equality Act 2010 was 45.6 per cent which is significantly lower than the employment rate for non-disabled people (81.1 per cent). Scottish Government has committed to halving the disability employment gap by 2038.

Workplace benefits

By delivering more inclusive workplaces and improving employment practice for disabled people employers can secure a range of benefits. A more diverse workforce provides a wider perspective, offering insights for decision-making, and leading to the delivery of services that better meet the needs of all people.

At the event we heard from a number of employers about their positive experiences of recruiting an Inclusion Scotland intern and the benefits this brought to the whole team. We also heard from those with lived experience of the barriers faced by disabled people seeking employment. 

Kiana Kalantar-Hormozi, a previous intern from Evenbreak, told us ” The truth is that we’re innovators, creative-thinkers and problem solvers. So it’s time to rethink recruitment strategies to benefit your organisation – are you missing out on untapped talent?”

Small changes matter

There are some small and simple changes that organisations can make to their recruitment processes and ways of working to make their workplace more accessible for disabled employees. These include looking at working hours, increasing flexibility and offering interview support. 

There were also presentations from interns about their employment journeys and the opportunities that getting work experience opened up for them. Mags Moore of Sopra Steria saw their intern gain confidence and become a valued member of the team. 

She said, “There is an amazing talent pool waiting to get a foot on the employment ladder. You can give them that chance”.

Disability Confident

Diversity and inclusion is important at all levels in the workplace as it helps employees to feel accepted and valued. Staff who feel valued and supported are more likely to give their best and be motivated to be more productive, creative and innovative. This is why RPS has committed to improving how we recruit, retain and develop people with disabilities by signing up to the Disability Confident scheme, which supports employers to make the most of the talents people with disabilities can bring to the workplace.

Mags Moore told us that she believed that TEAM stands for Together Everyone Achieves More and I think this is a very fitting reflection of how diversity in the workplace benefits everyone.

Just started a new job? Or is work a bit tough? You might benefit from a mentor

By Prof Nina Barnett, FRPharmS

Mentoring is an excellent way of providing guidance and support for pharmacists at any time in their career, from being new to the profession or thinking of changing sector to dealing with difficult work situations or reflecting on the avenues open to maintain an optimal work-life balance.

Mentoring is often defined as a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. The activities involved can be varied and the scope can be wide. For example, the term can refer to a relationship in which the mentor provides guidance on development in general or on specific topics. It can also overlap with coaching, career guidance, support by peers and tutoring.

The term “mentoring” is sometimes used to describe the relationship between a tutor and tutee. The terminology can be confusing in pharmacy because for preregistration trainees, the tutor could be considered as a “qualification mentor” due to the regulatory requirement for guidance through a programme of study leading to a professional qualification. In addition, some trainees have both tutors and mentors.
In fact, mentors do not have to be experts or teachers. For example, peer mentoring relationships focus on mentee self-directed outcomes and the mentor is not a tutor but rather uses a facilitative approach to help mentees achieve their goals. Indeed, a pharmacist who is newly registered can be an effective mentor for a preregistration trainee because they will have recent experience of the preregistration year and of the examination.

Mentoring means different things to different people. To ensure a successful mentoring relationship, it is important understand the purpose of each mentoring relationship, both in relation to what the mentee wants to achieve and what the mentor can offer.

Mentoring is an excellent way of providing guidance and support for pharmacists at any time in their career, from being new to the profession or thinking of changing sector to dealing with difficult work situations or reflecting on the avenues open to maintain an optimal work-life balance.
Mentoring is often defined as a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. The activities involved can be varied and the scope can be wide. For example, the term can refer to a relationship in which the mentor provides guidance on development in general or on specific topics. It can also overlap with coaching, career guidance, support by peers and tutoring.

The term “mentoring” is sometimes used to describe the relationship between a tutor and tutee. The terminology can be confusing in pharmacy because for preregistration trainees, the tutor could be considered as a “qualification mentor” due to the regulatory requirement for guidance through a programme of study leading to a professional qualification. In addition, some trainees have both tutors and mentors.
In fact, mentors do not have to be experts or teachers. For example, peer mentoring relationships focus on mentee self-directed outcomes and the mentor is not a tutor but rather uses a facilitative approach to help mentees achieve their goals. Indeed, a pharmacist who is newly registered can be an effective mentor for a preregistration trainee because they will have recent experience of the preregistration year and of the examination.

Mentoring means different things to different people. To ensure a successful mentoring relationship, it is important understand the purpose of each mentoring relationship, both in relation to what the mentee wants to achieve and what the mentor can offer.

Benefits to mentees
Being mentored allows the mentee to improve their understanding of work issues and to be exposed to different approaches to dealing with them. The mentor can be used as a sounding board for ideas and, because the relationship and conversations are confidential, the mentee can speak freely without fear of repercussions.
Information can be disclosed privately to a mentor who, coming from a similar environment, will be able to understand and empathise. Alternatively, the mentee might choose to be mentored by someone in a different sector in order to expand their horizons.

One specialist pharmacist in mental health was mentored as a junior pharmacist and, said: “Mentoring provided me with support and practical advice on how to deal with challenging situations, and gave me an insight on how to develop my career path and make use of my strengths and weaknesses.”

Most people who have been mentored describe an increase in confidence as one of the key benefits. One pharmacist, prescriber in a senior hospital-based clinical role benefited from mentoring when they became a pharmacist prescriber, explained:

Although I was very confident and experienced as a pharmacist practitioner, I was new to pharmacist prescribing. I wanted a mentor for support and to guide me through training and in my role as a new prescriber… Through mentoring I was able to address the challenges of a new prescriber, which included defining my scope of practice in order to maximise patient contribution and ensuring my prescribing was safe and effective.”

As well as offering opportunities for self-learning, mentoring can also help mentees focus on their priorities. One pharmacist, with an existing career in across a range of pharmacy sectors contacted the RPS to find support with the career direction change. They said: “Over the years, I have found that those that are thriving (whether in professional or general life) have often been blessed with having had one or more mentors. I know I would not be where I am now if it were not for several folk who have actively invested in me over the years.”

Rewards for mentors
Mentors often express satisfaction in helping others to achieve their goals as well as enjoying the opportunity to give back to the profession. As a mentor, the satisfaction of seeing your mentee overcome difficulties and create the future they aspire to is extremely rewarding.
I have been fortunate throughout my career to be mentored, both formally and informally, by people who inspired me to achieve my potential and who supported me through the various challenges along the way. I am pleased to be able to mentor others in the hope that they will gain from it as much as I did.
In developing others, mentors also grow their own skills and may gain a different perspective on work. They also find that their confidence around addressing issues and in dealing with people from different backgrounds increases. Mentors do not necessarily need specific knowledge in the mentee’s area of practice (they might simply be required to ask questions to aid reflection and help the individual to self-solve problems) but some skills, such as the ability to question, listen and provide constructive feedback, are essential.

For both mentors and mentees, mentoring presents many opportunities for continuing professional development. The relationship promotes learning, commitment and motivation, all of which support completion of revalidation entries. Entries may include learning that results from meetings and discussions, providing and receiving support or feedback, and evaluating progress either as a mentor or mentee. Mentoring experiences can be used to identify or refine learning focus.

Support
Many professional organisations recognise the benefit of mentoring services and provide this service for their members. Most health-related royal colleges, such as nursing, psychiatry and obstetrics and gynaecology, offer mentorship to their respective students and trainees.
RPS has a mentoring platform which facilitates easy and appropriate matching of mentor to mentee. You need to decide what you would like a mentor to support you with. You can then select and approach a mentor based on their profile of skills and experience. Join the RPS platform today and find your perfect match.

Sign up www.rpharms.com/mentoring

Get your flu vaccination!

by Paul Bennett, RPS Chief Executive

I’ve had my seasonal flu vaccination – have you had yours?

It’s become part of my routine, and I make sure I get a flu jab every year. I get it to make sure I stay well, along with the people I come into contact with who may be vulnerable, my family and colleagues.

It’s a very sensible precaution because influenza is easy to pass on, even if you don’t show symptoms. It can have a devastating impact if it takes hold.  Every healthcare professional working with patients should get vaccinated – it’s not too late.

We often think of flu as something little more than a bad cold.  It’s so much worse than that, In 2018/19, there were an estimated 1,692 deaths associated with flu.

Flu has a legacy of tragedy behind it.  The 1918 influenza pandemic killed more than both WW1 and WW2 combined.

We experienced something, thankfully on a less devastating scale, in more recent times. Back in the last decade, the UK suffered as part of the outbreak of Pandemic H1N1/09 (or Swine flu as it became known).

At its peak there were estimated to be 110,000 active cases in a single week in the UK. This caused much disruption to the lives of many of us. I remember spending days planning for massive workforce disruption as part of the leadership team of my organisation at the time. Our challenge was to support ill colleagues while continuing to serve the patients who depended upon us. Maybe that’s why I take these things seriously.

The RPS supports the call for all healthcare professionals to be vaccinated. It’s just common sense and yet not enough do. And every year, the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Pharmaceutical Officers call on healthcare workers to be vaccinated. As the professional membership body for pharmacists, we must lead by example, and that’s why I encourage all our employees and members to do the same thing. Protect yourselves, your family and the rest of the population.