RPS at Conservative Party Conference

By Sibby Buckle FRPharmS, Chair, Pharmacy Digital Forum and English Board member

A rainy Manchester was the setting for this year’s Conservative Party Conference. The slogan “Get Brexit Done” emblazoned across the outside of the convention complex to greet the mix of party members, campaigners and lobbyists. It was a recurring message throughout the proceedings, with the party of government looking to focus on issues other than Europe, but Brexit still dominated much of the speeches and debates.

With a new Prime Minister, a reshuffled Cabinet, and continued speculation over a potential general election, the backdrop for this conference was far from usual. Indeed, after a Supreme court ruling, Parliament itself was still sitting while the conference was going on. Would opposition parties try to table votes so that Conservative MPs would have to travel back to London? Would there be a vote of no confidence in the Government? Would the Conference need to finish early? As it was, none of this came to pass and the party managed to set out its agenda largely unimpeded.

The policy announcement on health which received the most attention in the news was for the extra £13.4Bn funding for hospital infrastructure, but there were lots of other events and debates in the conference fringes as well.

I was delighted to join representatives from a number of Royal Colleges at a roundtable on workforce, hosted by the Royal College of Physicians and the British Medical Association, as well as Health Committee member Andrew Selous MP and Marcus Fysh MP. The discussion focused on how to make the NHS the best place to work and how we can support recruitment – a key theme of the Interim NHS People Plan. This is a big focus for the RPS, looking at a range of issues such as education and training, recruitment into new roles such as in primary care networks, and how pharmacists’ mental health can be supported in an often-pressurised work environment.

I also raised the need for funding for Community Pharmacists to train as Independent Prescribers (IP’s) to help ease the pressure on GP’s, and encourage the public to visit their ‘Pharmacy First’. This is becoming more pressing as the move to give prescribing rights to Physicians Associates, Anaesthetists Associates, and Clinical Scientists increases. I don’t want our Pharmacy profession left behind!

Fringe Events

At an NHS Confederation fringe on “The NHS in a post-Brexit world” with Vicky Ford MP, a member of the Science and Technology Committee, I highlighted how pharmacists are key to helping patients access their medicines, particularly in the event of potential shortages. Indeed, we have already had the first ‘Serious Shortage Protocol’ (SSP) announced.

I then hot-footed it to a roundtable with Turning Point on health inequalities and the Government’s prevention green paper, using this opportunity to flag the need for an agreed mechanism for Pharmacists to be enabled to, and fully engage in, ‘social prescribing’.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock MP spoke really positively about pharmacy later that day “in conversation” with the Centre for Policy Studies. When asked about the new announcement on hospital funding, he went on to highlight the importance of supporting prevention and how pharmacists can play a vital role in helping people stay healthy and out of hospital, as well as treating minor ailments in the community and taking pressure off GPs. He welcomed the direction of travel set out in the new community pharmacy contract so that pharmacists can provide more services and said he hoped this would be further expanded in future to make even greater use of pharmacists’ clinical skills.

It was great to hear the message getting through about how pharmacists will be really important to helping deliver the NHS Long-Term Plan. With the “final” NHS People Plan expected in the coming months, we’ll keep talking to Government and the NHS about supporting the profession to get the best results for our patients.

Yes, a conference focused on Brexit, but with Health still firmly on the agenda.

Your introduction to drug safety

Professor Saad Shakir, Director at Drug Safety Research Unit

We are delighted to be joining forces with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society to provide this course to introduce pharmacovigilance to pharmacists. Pharmacovigilance is defined by the European Medicines Agency as “the science and activities relating to the detection, assessment, understanding and prevention of adverse effects or any other medicine-related problem.”

Monitoring safety and pharmacovigilance are key activities during the lifecycle of a medicine, both at the pre-marketing stage and once it is licensed for use in humans. No medicine is without risk of adverse effects and the science of drug safety involves assessing and optimising the risk-benefit balance for each medicine.

This course will detail the key role that pharmacists have to play in pharmacovigilance and will explain why it is important to report adverse drug reactions and methods for doing so. Presentations will be complemented by interactive sessions.

Routine risk minimisation measures are required for each drug and include the SmPC, PIL, packet size and the legal state. For products where these are considered insufficient, additional risk minimisation measures will be required in order to optimise the risk/benefit balance and maintain patient safety in everyday use of the drug. Community pharmacists are frequently involved in additional risk minimisation measures usually at the point at which a medicine is dispensed. For example, pharmacists may be asked to keep a log to indicate whether they have provided a patient card to the patient with their medicine (in addition to the PIL) and explained its use. The patient card may list serious potential side effects and actions to be taken in the event of occurrence.

This blog aims to provide you with a glimpse of the course. We do hope that you will be able to join us!

Book your place now

https://events.rpharms.com/website/672/home/

Thinking of a career in drug safety?

By Dania Shamil MPharmS, MSc, PV Manager of International Pharmacovigilance and UK QPPV at Vertex Pharmaceuticals

Having worked in various sectors of pharmacy including hospital, community and academia I found my passion in drug safety and the pharmaceutical industry. I wanted to improve my technical knowledge in drug safety, therefore I completed an MSc in Pharmacovigilance (PV) soon after my MPharm degree at the Drug Safety Research Unit (DSRU). I recognised that I had a great career ahead and my enthusiasm grew knowing that I could ensure patient safety by monitoring the adverse effects of marketed or investigational drugs. It is a great career for a pharmacist as you are still able to use the scientific knowledge gained in a MPharm degree, as well as develop new skills.  drug safety it is a very important role in the drug lifecycle! With the increasing changes in drug safety regulations globally, I am continuously developing my technical PV knowledge as well as my analytical skills, which is the central theme in a PV career. No two days are the same! 

I am the founder and leader of the ‘Thinking of a career in drug safety course’. It is a new and exciting course for anyone interested in a career in drug safety. Previous experience is not required. The course helps pharmacists understand the opportunities that the pharmaceutical industry presents.

The course is taught by leading experts who have extensive experience in drug safety and who will share their insights and provide advice for the array of career options. The course will introduce the importance of drug safety, how this affects patients and what it is like to work in a patient safety department. Practical workshops will give delegates an understanding of the ongoing and proactive drug safety activities which are taking place in the patient safety departments and the key partnerships with health authorities to ensure that the patients are safe whilst they are taking medicines.

Dania Shamil MPharmS, MSc, PV Manager of International Pharmacovigilance and UK QPPV at Vertex Pharmaceuticals.

RPS at Labour Party Conference

The Labour Party Conference was back in Brighton for their 2019 event. But this was not a usual political setting. And as the Supreme Court hearing on the Tuesday ruled that parliament had been suspended unlawfully, the conference atmosphere seemed focused on matters elsewhere.

But even in this environment, the party was able to explicitly set out some of its key policy agenda and health received a great deal of traction from figures within the shadow cabinet. Even before I arrived at the conference, the Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth had already announced that a Labour government would scrap prescription charges for patients in England, like they already are in Wales and Scotland. As a member of the Prescription Charges Coalition, a group of nearly 40 health organisations, the RPS has long called for an end to these charges and is something that we would welcome. Leader Jeremy Corbyn used his closing speech to outline his ambition to introduce a state-owned drug company to provide cheaper, generic medicines for the NHS, citing the cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi as a prime example of medicines being too expensive for the NHS to fund. The RPS is now awaiting further details on how this would potentially work in the future.

Fringe Events

As expected, a lot of the events that I attended focused on the challenges to healthcare posed by Brexit. The Shadow Health Secretary, like many other MPs, repeatedly emphasised how a no deal Brexit would leave the UK significant medicine and staffing shortages. Workforce was also a theme across the conference, specifically analysing government funding and the implementation of the NHS Long-Term Plan. At a Fringe on “Wearables, WiFi and Workforce: Is the NHS fit for the future?”, I was delighted to hear from panel members highlighting their concerns to MPs regarding current healthcare conditions, such as why a lack of basic digital capabilities in patient records across sectors may tamper with future NHS development. This is a key topic for the RPS at the moment and we will continue to engage with stakeholders about what new technology could mean for pharmacy.

The high-profile policy proposal made by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell of a National Care Service, which would provide free care to all over-65s meant there was also many events on social care. At an event titled “Is now the time for a Nye Bevan moment in social care?”, which the panel included Julie Cooper MP, Shadow Minister for Health and an officer on the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Pharmacy, questions were raised regarding staff recruitment in new roles across new NHS systems. It was a great pleasure to introduce myself on behalf of the RPS and speak to MPs about the important role pharmacists play in supporting patient health by preventing and detecting conditions, as well as publicise recent RPS campaigns on a variety of topics, such as our recent diabetes and cardiovascular disease reports. With the ever-growing possibility of a general election in the coming months, we’ll continue to talk to MPs about what they will do to help support and raise the profile of the profession.

Jonathan Bisby

What did I write in my peer discussion?

By Chris John

The windscreen wiper (yes my car only has one) was hypnotically moving back and forth as I waited for the Bournemouth to Swanage car ferry to get me across Poole harbour for the start of my summer holiday. It was 10am, 12 degrees centigrade and lashing down with rain. I opened a flask of coffee and wondered why I had put sandals on that day (no not with white socks). At least I had managed to get my peer discussion written up before driving down the M3.

I’d followed the instructions carefully when writing it (I have been known for not reading exam questions properly). I gave the name of my peer, her role, organisation, contact number and email address. Then I wrote how my peer discussion had changed my practice for the benefit of service users – I began by explaining my role on a panel (committee) that I was part of, which assessed the education of schools of pharmacy, medicine, nursing and other healthcare courses. It was my role to provide advice on pharmacy professional education and help score undergraduate courses (bronze, silver or gold) by using a set methodology looking at lots of data and written submissions. In this case, the other members of the committee were my service users and the advice I gave them was hopefully beneficial as it would support robust decision making and awarding the right medal!

My peer RX had asked in the peer discussion how I knew I was up to date in order to provide appropriate advice. RX had also asked me what the other panel members thought about my input to the panel. So, I went away after our session and re-read the initial education training standards (and the proposed ones) for pharmacy as well as the standards for medicine and nursing. This helped me understand approaches across the professions (there were similarities). I also read some research about pharmacy students’ readiness for practice and education approaches that supported their entry into the profession. The panel had a discussion at the end of all our meetings about my role (and those of the other professional representatives) and described the input as very useful. All decisions were ratified – sometimes with a vote but usually following a discussion of the evidence presented. I had been able to highlight up to date practice and felt satisfied with the advice I had given.

The summer is now nearly over. RX has got a new job so I will need to change all her contact details in my peer discussion record. The car ferry broke down later that summer. I hope the GPhC website doesn’t have a broken drive shaft! I need the inter-webular to ferry my revalidation records off to them before too long…

If you would like more information about Peer Discussion – take a look at our peer discussion tutorial.

https://www.rpharms.com/development/revalidation/peer-discussion/peer-discussion-tutorial

The role of pharmacists in the PCN revolution

By Ravi Sharma (Director for England, RPS) and Graham Stretch (Clinical Director, Brentworth PCN and Vice President, Primary Care Pharmacy Association)

The NHS in England is set for transformation as the Long Term Plan is put into place over the next decade to ensure the NHS is fit for purpose in the future.

The Plan’s key aims are to:

• ensure everyone gets the best start in life,
• deliver world class care for major health problems
• and support people to age well

Read more The role of pharmacists in the PCN revolution

Every day is a school day for Chris

By Chris Maguire, pharmacist and marketing manager at Beckton Dickinson

I studied pharmacy at Queens University, Belfast.

I completed my pre-reg in community pharmacy, in a small chain, in the same town I went to school. Once I had finished, I did a few locums for the same company and was offered a relief position. I had friends in England who told me about the offers they’ve been receiving. I was tempted…and made the move to the “mainland”. I applied for few jobs and got one with Lloyds pharmacy, living in Liverpool. I moved from relief manager, to pharmacy manager to cluster manager. I was really enjoying work and career progression, but I had always wanted to travel so I took a career break for a year and travelled.
I even got to work in a hospital in Sydney for 6 months of my 14 months adventure.

When I came home, I got a job at Interface Clinical Services, working in primary care. Delivering services such as osteoporosis, diabetes and asthma reviews. Again, I started making my way up – from service development, to a national lead pharmacist.

I managed a team of 90 pharmacists running reviews, clinics, hospital work and made sure they were trained.  I had always been focused on delivering care based on NICE guidance or the latest evidence in disease areas.
I think that with more responsibility, pharmacists can help make a change on a bigger scale.

In my roles in primary care, I learned how clinical systems work in GP land, how the mechanics of QOF work.  I strongly believe that with up-skilling pharmacists to be experts in specific disease areas and pharmacy integration we can create better primary care services. 

I’d been working on a diabetes service specifically for quite a while and think there is so much more pharmacists could do.  It was because of my experience in primary care that I was approached by industry to join as a project manager and help to deliver value based health care. A concept where value is the outcome for the patient over the cost. I thought this was an amazing opportunity to help on a bigger scale and to gain experience in industry.

I had been approached by industry before with an MSL opportunity. I looked into their portfolio, their evidence, the guidelines and felt that it wasn’t a good fit and I couldn’t hang my pharmacist hat on that. So, I stayed with Interface for another 2 years, gaining more experience and exposure working with federations, CCGs, hospitals, AHSNs, NICE and others. It’s not always how fast you can get to the new job but going for the right job.

After working for a year as a project manager, I applied for a marketing manager job. I didn’t have any experience in marketing, but I do understand how the NHS and the supply chain works.  I understand how the use of data can help improve outcomes, which helped me get the job! I’ve now also enrolled on a course to become CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing) certified at diploma/degree level to make sure I have all the basics and grounding needed.

Every day is a school day! 

Find out more about how to get a job in pharmaceutical industry

Peer Discussion day has arrived

The moment has arrived.  RX and I are sitting opposite one another in the Bell Room at RPS HQ.  Messrs Squire and Hills, grandees from pharmacy history looking down at us from the wall and behind us the artefacts of the museum (I’m hoping there isn’t a thumbscrew in the museum and that this is going to be a free flowing discussion).

Read more Peer Discussion day has arrived

How Pharmaceutical Journal Publications are helping you meet your planned and unplanned learning requirements for revalidation

Michael Dowdall – Executive Editor, Research & Learning


April 2019 marked a year since the launch of the RPS MyCPD app, which contains content from The Pharmaceutical Journal and Clinical Pharmacist. Its aim is to meet the needs of members and pharmacy professionals undergoing revalidation. And it seems to be doing just that – in quarter one 2019, around 1,000 users were accessing content through the RPS MyCPD app every month, completing over 1,400 records of their learning and CPD activities. With updates scheduled over the coming months, the additional revalidation requirements for peer discussion and reflective accounts, as well as over 330 articles from Pharmaceutical Journal Publications now available, this number is certain to grow.

Read more How Pharmaceutical Journal Publications are helping you meet your planned and unplanned learning requirements for revalidation

From community pharmacist to Medical Science Liaison

Sinead Monaghan, Medical Science Liaison, Sanofi

I graduated with a master’s degree in pharmacy from Queen’s University Belfast.I undertook my pre-registration year in a community pharmacy chain in Northern Ireland. I was employed as a pharmacist manager with the same company post pre-registration year. I spent a further four years as a community pharmacist.

I thoroughly enjoyed this role, especially being a pharmacist tutor. This very much sparked my interest in training others. I had always been curious about alternative pharmacist roles, but felt my knowledge of career paths was limited.

Read more From community pharmacist to Medical Science Liaison