I’m one of four Regional Liaison Pharmacists at the RPS, working on system leadership for pharmacy and medicines optimisation in England, delivering national strategy at a local/regional level.
We know there is a need to bridge the gap between the strategic and operational levels of healthcare and mobilise the profession to get involved with system leadership to improve health outcomes for patients. It’s vital to ensure that medicines optimisation and pharmacy services are considered core criteria when planning and implementing healthcare services. As a profession we need to accept that pharmacy or medicines does not need to be explicitly stated in STP/CCG plans to allow pharmacists to be involved, provide medication optimisation services and deliver efficiencies. Patient safety and quality improvement are fundamental areas in which pharmacists can offer expertise and deliver medicines services.
Listening and learning
This first three months of this role have been a fact finding and listening exercise, with a range of pharmacy leaders including colleagues at NHS England, Academic Health and Science Networks, Local Pharmaceutical Committees, Local Professional Networks and secondary care providers to explore the enablers and barriers for integration within pharmacy and with other healthcare professions. This fact finding has demonstrated that local leaders of the profession know what they need to do to work together; it’s more a question about how they get the right people in the room and finding the time to make it happen.
We are keen to help embed the national Medicines Value Programme and support the delivery of the work streams funded by the Pharmacy Integration Fund (PhIF) including better recognition of the clinical and system leadership pharmacists and technicians can offer across the NHS. The PhIF is currently funding seven pilot areas to put into operationalize their NHS pharmacy and medicines leadership and deliver agreed outputs during 2018/19. We will support them wherever we can.
Integrating urgent and emergency care
A key area of focus for integration is the urgent and emergency Care (UEC) system, where pharmacists in a variety of sectors are making a real difference in delivering care to patients.
The ambition is to improve the urgent and emergency care system to ensure patients get the right care in the right place whenever they need it and better manage hospital admissions and discharges. There are different clinical settings which encompass UEC and these include NHS 111, GP practices, GP out of hours services, community pharmacies, urgent and emergency care vanguards, urgent treatment centres and ambulance response programmes.
An excellent example of how pharmacists can play a pivotal role in UEC care settings is the model provided by the North West Ambulance service. Their clinical hub demonstrates system leadership in action and shows there are opportunities for pharmacists in the urgent care setting. This is one of many examples where pharmacists are using their skills to contribute to the effectiveness of multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) within the UEC environment for the benefit of patients.
These examples need to become routine areas of practice for pharmacists so the skills we offer are seen as central to the MDT. To fulfil this ambition, our profession and other system leaders need to consider how best to create opportunities for staff to attend training to deliver these roles and keep providing services for patients.
To support this, Health Education England have a number of flexible and accessible courses which allow you to study at work, or in your own time. The courses fully funded through the Pharmacy Integration Fund, support pharmacists to train for the new ways of working. They include post registration training, the NHS 111 and urgent care workforce development programme and clinical and professional leadership development. Here’s further information about them.
It really is an exciting time to be a pharmacist and I look forward to supporting conversations in system leadership to ensure the value that pharmacists offer patients and their healthcare colleagues is fully recognised through employment opportunities across the NHS.