Pharmagraphics

By Briony Hudson, Pharmacy historian, curator and lecturer

What do mandrake, medicinal treacle and the RPS headquarters have in common?

They all feature in Pharmagraphics , a new online “digital story” from the Wellcome Collection that explores the relationship between pharmacy and design across time.

I started work on the project with Julia Nurse, Wellcome Library’s Collections Researcher, earlier this year to produce six “chapters” that looked at different aspects of pharmacy history and how graphics, design and imagery played their part.  The aim was to link with the Wellcome Collection’s current exhibition ‘Can Graphic Design Save Your Life?’, and to draw on the fantastic collection of images both within Wellcome’s own collection and elsewhere including the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Museum . Read more Pharmagraphics

Biologics and biosimilars – what are they?

By Jayne Lawrence, Head of Division of Pharmacy and Optometry, University of Manchester.

The Commissioning Framework for Biological Medicines announced recently by NHS England will both help guide improvements to developing better medicines for patients and provide a guide to ensuring the NHS gets best value for money from these innovative, exciting medicines.

What is a biologic?
Biological medicines have made many new, groundbreaking treatments possible, significantly im-proving the lives of many patients with long term conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, anaemia associated with chronic kidney failure, and types of cancer.

They are extremely expensive, in part due to the complexity of their production. For example, a course of a new immunotherapy drug typically costs more than £100,000 per patient per year. Furthermore, as biologicals currently comprise approximately 50% of all new drug approvals, it is likely that the high cost of new medicines is with us for the foreseeable future. Consequently, any way of reducing the cost of these important medicines is vital. Read more Biologics and biosimilars – what are they?

Why is handwashing important?

By Professor Ash Soni, President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Every day we carry millions of bacteria, some of which are naturally found on our bodies and some of which are germs that can make us ill or infect others.

Every day we have contact with people who don’t always wash their hands after going to the toilet, or preparing food.

Our survey on handwashing shows 84% of British adults don’t wash their hands for long enough to clean them of bacteria which can cause infections such as upset stomachs or pneumonia, or viruses which can cause colds and flu.

Regular handwashing with soap and water is the single best way to protect yourself and others from infections. The recommended time to spend washing your hands is 20 seconds, as long as it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday to you’ twice. Read more Why is handwashing important?

Creating a profession where you feel comfortable to be yourselves

by Robbie Turner, RPS Director for England

Recently I wrote a blog about  LGBTQ Pride celebrations describing how upset I was that LGBTQ young people were still suffering high levels of abuse, discrimination and mental health issues as a result of their identity. I promised to reflect on what more the RPS could do to support pharmacists to help young LGBTQ people and we are exploring how our future RPS campaigns can deliver this. Read more Creating a profession where you feel comfortable to be yourselves

What do pharmacists need to know about heartburn?

By Dr Pulak Sahay, Consultant Gastroenterologist and Senior Lecturer of Medicine, Leeds University

What is reflux?

It is estimated that there are over 10 million adults in the UK who suffer from heartburn (sometimes known as reflux disease or Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD)).  If left untreated or poorly controlled, this can cause considerable discomfort and lead to a poor quality of life. In extreme situations, untreated heartburn can cause a host of both gastrointestinal (GI) and non-GI complications, including severe complications such as Oesophageal Adenocarcinoma (OA) – known as Oesophageal Cancer. Read more What do pharmacists need to know about heartburn?

Pharmacy’s future is digital

By Sibby Buckle, Chair of the RPS Digital Forum

 

What is the RPS Pharmacy Digital Forum?

It’s where the profession comes together to forge the future.  We are an enthusiastic and committed group of 30+ members who agree that digital literacy across the profession needs urgent attention.

With representation from across the UK, and from all sectors of pharmacy – community, primary care and hospital, PMR suppliers, NHS Digital, DH, PSNC, PRSB, and NHS Improvement –  there is a real appetite to create the change needed to enable pharmacy to be truly integrated into the NHS and healthcare. Read more Pharmacy’s future is digital

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.

Patient safety first

By Robbie Turner, RPS Director for England

The publication of the first report by the Community Pharmacy Patient Safety Group is a welcome development which should be applauded.

Bringing together representatives of community pharmacies large and small they have demonstrated a real commitment to openness, transparency, and in learning from each other to improve the safety of the people they serve.

Transparency

The use of real life examples as part of the report has, unsurprisingly, led to a focus on the aspects that have gone wrong in the past rather than the work being done to prevent these happening again. This was always going to be a risk for the group but they took a decision that the real life examples helped to demonstrate why they have made some of the recommendations they have. I think this was a good and brave decision.

If we are to continue to improve the safety of services we provide as pharmacists it is essential that we are able to share our mistakes and discuss how we, as a profession, think they can be prevented from happening again.

The future

The work of the Community Pharmacy Patient Safety Group is an important step towards a safer future for our patients and the public.

To really deliver a future where pharmacists and their teams can be open and transparent when they make honest mistakes we need to remove the fear of being automatically criminalised for reporting dispensing errors.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society believes that the move to decriminalise single dispensing errors is long overdue and is lobbying hard to ensure this is delivered as soon as possible by the government.

Joined up pharmacy IT and services – how do we get there?

by Stephen Goundrey-Smith, RPS Informatics Advisor

In today’s NHS, pharmacy teams are delivering an ever-widening range of services which make a real contribution to patient care. What’s more, pharmacy professionals are working in various settings – community and hospital pharmacies, but increasingly in GP surgeries, care homes and other places.

The potential for valuable service provision by pharmacy teams working across different care settings, means that the need for IT interoperability to enable integrated healthcare – and joined-up pharmacy services – has never been greater.

Good progress has been made with tactical solutions for community pharmacy access to prescribing records including the roll-out of the Summary Care Record to community pharmacists, and the use of hospital discharge e-Referral systems (PharmOutcomes and Refer to Pharmacy).

But how can the infrastructure for a fully-integrated health service be developed, to support comprehensive pharmacy services going forward? Read more Joined up pharmacy IT and services – how do we get there?