Medical exemption fines: could they be better spent?

by RPS England Board Chair Sandra Gidley

The Government have announced plans to strengthen checks at pharmacies for entitlement to free prescriptions in England.  Whilst we all want to see fraud stopped, I have to ask – is really the right approach?

Only patients in England can be judged to have committed prescription fraud because prescriptions are free in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Many patients who fall foul of the medical exemption fine have simply forgotten to renew it. They only need to do this every five years, so it’s a diary date that is easy to miss. We shouldn’t label people with a serious long term condition who have forgotten to renew their medical exemption certificate as fraudsters because they have made a genuine mistake. Read more Medical exemption fines: could they be better spent?

Volunteering at FIP 2018

Elisa Lee, Fourth Year MPharm student at Robert Gordon University 

What I did

I was one of the few fortunate students who was elected as a volunteer for the 78th FIP world congress in Glasgow 2018.

I started my volunteering a few days before the event, along with other student volunteers from all over UK, where we were split into different working areas. These included FIP booth, press and speaker room, accreditation and registration, and poster session. On the first two days we helped set up the exhibition hall, work stations, equipment and helped pack badges.

I was part of the accreditation and registration group for the duration of the congress. My role consisted of handing out evaluation forms, recording any filled-out forms on excel and answering any questions regarding accreditation. I also helped at the registration desk, helping participants collect their membership badges, handing out programmes and helping with any other general enquiries. Read more Volunteering at FIP 2018

FIP – like hosting the pharmacy Olympics

I spent the first week of September in a surprisingly sunny Glasgow, at the 2018 FIP World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. This was the 78th FIP event and the first time it had been held in the UK for nearly 40 years. We had the privilege and huge challenge of hosting it – and let no one underestimate the size of this challenge! A global gathering of pharmacists and we were responsible for the venue, the catering, much of the programme, the formal opening ceremony and the big events. It’s like hosting the Olympics except for pharmacy! It took considerable effort from our great events team and many other colleagues to plan and deliver this.

The ‘myth’ concerns the view sometimes expressed that such events are irrelevant to the majority of the profession and are only for a select few – the ‘pharmacy elite’ from academia, science, research and pharmacy politics. If you’d asked me previously what FIP was all about, I may have told you rather dismissively and from an uninformed position, that it was not really relevant to us in the UK, out of reach to the ‘typical’ pharmacist and out of touch with the younger generation. What a huge misconception that proved to be!

Glasgow 2018 really did dispel that myth for me. Many community pharmacists and their representative organisations were in attendance actively participating in the event, as well as people from hospital practice and chief pharmacists from all across the globe, including our own from here in the UK. Read more FIP – like hosting the pharmacy Olympics

Supporting System Leadership

by Amandeep Doll, RPS Regional Liaison Pharmacist

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.  Read more Supporting System Leadership

Pride in Practice : Being brave

by Dr. Claire Thompson, RPS Deputy Chief Scientist

She…

I’ve written lots of blogs on science or leadership but never about being gay, so this is my first professional outing.

I’m fortunate in that I have never experienced overt homophobia in the workplace. This is in stark contrast to my personal life, where experiences have ranged from:

– Being abandoned by groups of friends at school;
– Family members not coming to my wedding because they didn’t “agree with it”; and
– Strangers in the street shouting “You deserve to die” for simply holding hands with my girlfriend. (No, this wasn’t the 1950s, it was 2003)

Even though they haven’t been painful professional experiences, it doesn’t mean there haven’t been uncomfortable ones. Like every time someone asks “What does your husband do?”. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve responded “They….” or “My partner….” Because I didn’t want people to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. But the longer you leave it, the more uncomfortable the discussion gets.

When is the right time?

So, when is the right time to say “She” or “My girlfriend” or “My wife”? Over the last few years, I’ve made a conscious decision to get “She” in early. The birth of my daughter really helped with this. As a proud parent, I would show people photographs and they would say “You look great for having a young baby” to which I could respond “Oh my wife gave birth to her, and she looks better than I do!” (See the photo below as proof). I find that openness, humour and a baby photo go a long way to diffusing any discomfort. Of course, there have been occasions where I have just taken the compliment (please don’t tell my wife)!

Dr. Claire Thompson (right) with her family

Brave

Coming out to colleagues still doesn’t come naturally, it always takes an element of bravery and I do admit that there are some people that I still don’t tell because I know they will judge me unfairly. Ultimately, we need to be comfortable with what we share about ourselves.
But if you do want people in the workplace to know that you are gay, take a deep breath and go for it.
Be brave. Be you.

Pride in Practice

by Sarah Steel MRPharmS, RPS Wales Policy and Practice Co-ordinator

Sarah Steel MRPharmS, Policy and Practice Coordinator

With August being the month we in Wales choose to celebrate Pride, what better time for the RPS Wales team to join the ongoing campaign for unity, equality, acceptance and embracement. To show our solidarity, some of our RPS staff members will be sharing their experiences in pharmacy as members of the LBGT community, and on the 24th of August, the eve of Pride Cymru, in the office we will be donning our brightest colours, eating rainbow cakes and flying the flag in support of Pride.

Why we still need to worry about equality

I’ve found myself thinking recently – if last year marked the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act and the “de-criminalisation of homosexuality”, why are members of the LGBT community still being tormented, isolated and discriminated against? It turns out, my ignorance was distorting my understanding. In 1967 homosexuality was in fact only partially de-criminalised; many anti-gay laws remained, and criminalisation did not in fact toally end in the United Kingdom until 2013. That’s only five years ago!

Five years ago, I was in my second year of University. Through my time at University and my career to date, I have been a proud member of the LGBT community. For the majority of the time, I have felt accepted and embraced, but I can’t say I have always felt that I am, or would always be, treated the same. My sexuality is something I am conscious of in interviews, when starting new jobs or working in new teams. I am still, in 2018, worried how people will react when, for example, I correct he to she when talking about my personal life. And I am sad to hear from colleagues and friends that they have had much worse experiences, including homophobic slurs and discrimination.

Join us and show your Pride in Practice

What stands out to me clearly is that LGBT rights and support is not a moot point, and there’s still a long way to go. The celebration of the campaign and the achievements so far is as important as ever, and we hope that through our blogs and  photos, we can be a part of the campaign for unity, equality, acceptance and embracement for all of our members. We’d love it for members to join us by sharing photos of your involvement this weekend, either at home or in the work place. Be sure to tag your social posts with #RPSPrideInPractice so we can share!

Improving mental and physical health – parkrun

By Chrissie Wellington, Global Head of Health and Wellbeing, parkrun

We all know that exercise is one way to improve physical and mental health, but it can be very hard to get started and motivate yourself to continue exercising.

I work for a brilliant organisation called parkrun which provides a fantastic way for anyone to improve their physical and mental health in a fun and supportive environment.

As a non-profit organisation, parkrun organises free 5k runs which take place every Saturday at 9am (9:30am in Scotland and Northern Ireland). There are currently over 770 parkrun events across the UK with approximately 140,000 weekly participants supported by around 14,000 volunteers.  Read more Improving mental and physical health – parkrun

Pharmacists working to Eliminate Hep C

Andrew RadleyArticle by Andrew Radley, Consultant in Public Health Pharmacy, NHS Tayside

In 2016, the World Health Organisation advocated that Hepatitis C (HCV) could be eliminated as a public health problem by 2030.  The current WHO factsheet for HCV tells us that:

HCV is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus: the virus can cause both a mild illness lasting a few weeks or a serious, lifelong illness that can be fatal.

The most common route to infection is through exposure to small quantities of blood e.g. through injecting drug use. Across the world, an estimated 71 million people have chronic HCV infection. Approximately 399 000 people die each year from HCV, mostly from cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma.  Read more Pharmacists working to Eliminate Hep C

The Hanbury Botanical Garden: a pharmacist’s holiday destination in 1906

By Karen Horn, RPS Librarian

The Hanbury Botanical Garden is situated on the La Mortola promontory overlooking the Mediterranean. A glance at TripAdvisor  tells us that it is ‘spectacular,’ ‘a real gem,’ and ‘a beautiful, calm place with stunning views.’

What we are not told, though, is the garden’s connection to the Hanbury family and pharmacy.

Thomas, Daniel and the making of a garden

Daniel Hanbury was an enthusiastic traveller, taking every opportunity to further his research on materia medica. It was he who brought La Mortola to the attention of his brother, Thomas.  In March 1867, Thomas, a merchant in Shanghai, visited the area and found the ruined Palazzo Orengo with its neglected grounds and olive groves. Read more The Hanbury Botanical Garden: a pharmacist’s holiday destination in 1906

Drug-related deaths in Scotland 2017: How can pharmacy help?

Article by Fiona Raeburn, Immediate Past Chair, and Dr Carole Hunter, Current Chair, on behalf of the Scottish Specialist Pharmacists in Substance Misuse

This week the 2017 data for drug related deaths in Scotland was released.

The figures showed a further increase year on year.​ Sadly 934 people lost their lives. These deaths were preventable.

The Scottish Pharmacists in Substance Misuse group urge pharmacy staff across Scotland to think about the contact that they have with people who use drugs. Contact with community pharmacies in particular is often daily and presents opportunities to provide support, advice and encouragement as well as early warning signs that things are not going so well. Read more Drug-related deaths in Scotland 2017: How can pharmacy help?