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?

Why should you attend the ‘Women in Leadership: Survive and Thrive’?

by Emma Davies, Advanced Pharmacist Practitioner and Research Fellow at Swansea University.

Women form the majority of the pharmacy workforce and yet, are still under-represented in senior roles across all sectors. This Women in Leadership event is looking to explore some of the issues faced by women working in healthcare and how we can work together to overcome them.

My contribution

I am looking to share my experience of workplace bullying and how I have tried to turn negative experiences into motivation to succeed. I am hoping that by being open about what I have faced, it will encourage people who may be going through a similar experience to know that it doesn’t have to continue or prevent them from realising their potential. I am looking forward to hearing from attendees about how they might have dealt with similar experiences and what I can learn from that to strengthen my future and those I support.  Read more Why should you attend the ‘Women in Leadership: Survive and Thrive’?

The Hanbury Memorial Medal – open to scientists of all nations

By Karen Horn, RPS Librarian

Daniel Hanbury, renowned British pharmacologist and botanist, died of typhoid fever on 24 March 1875.  He was 49 years old.  He is buried in Wandsworth, in the Society of Friends’ burial ground.

Shortly after Daniel Hanbury’s death, his friends and colleagues resolved to honour a life dedicated to science by awarding a medal in his memory –  for ‘high excellence in the prosecution or promotion of original research in the Natural History and Chemistry of Drugs.’ Read more The Hanbury Memorial Medal – open to scientists of all nations

It’s time to make the most of pharmacy in mental health

By Sandra Gidley, Chair of RPS England

People with a serious mental illness die 15-20 years earlier than on average.

They are three times as likely to lose all their teeth.

More than 16 million people in England are diagnosed with a long-term physical health condition, and more than five million of them will experience a mental health problem.

These are just some of the shocking figures that underline just how much further we have to go on the issue of mental health and the reason I was delighted to join with members, patient groups and the other health professions to mark the launch of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s new campaign on mental health in Parliament last week. Read more It’s time to make the most of pharmacy in mental health

What you must know about sunscreen

by Colin Cable, RPS Assistant Chief Scientist

Summer is coming. But when the sun comes out do we all know how to protect ourselves from its damaging rays?

To try and get a feel for the public’s understanding of sun protection the Royal Pharmaceutical Society carried out a survey – and about the types of damaging ultraviolet (UV) radiation, sunscreen labelling and how to use sunscreens effectively. Read more What you must know about sunscreen

Pharmacies can help in the battle to beat Hepatitis C

By Dr Suman Verma, co-chair of the London Joint Working Group of Substance Use and Hepatitis C and Hepatology Consultant at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital

This month the London Joint Working Group on Substance Use and Hepatitis C published results of an innovative pilot project that offered point-of-contact hepatitis C testing to people who use needle exchange services in 8 community pharmacies across London. More than half of those tested (53%) had hepatitis C antibodies and were referred directly into specialist services via newly created referral pathways for further tests and for potentially life-saving treatment. Of those engaging with specialist services, 78% had detectable hepatitis C virus particles in their blood and 33% had advanced liver disease with cirrhosis.

Whilst the scale of this pilot is small, its implications are huge. Hepatitis C is a serious public health issue in London.  Public Health England estimate there are more than 40,000 people living with the virus and around half of these people are undiagnosed. Read more Pharmacies can help in the battle to beat Hepatitis C

Care homes: pharmacists and technicians working together

By Wasim Baqir, Medicines optimisation lead for care homes, NHS England

At NHS England I’m responsible for making sure the recently announced new roles in care homes – 180 for pharmacists and 60 for pharmacy technicians – get up and running and the necessary training is in place. But why work in a care home in the first place?

I’ve spent many years working in care homes in Northumbria. Pharmacists and technicians working together in care homes is a fantastic opportunity to drive up standards of safe, high quality care.  In addition, the job satisfaction is enormous.  You get a personal sense of achievement when you stop medicines which are unnecessary and harmful, when you stop waste that’s costly to the system, and work together across boundaries with your community, hospital and general practice colleagues to offer more to residents. Read more Care homes: pharmacists and technicians working together

What are the benefits of having a pharmacist in a care home?

By Sandra Gidley, Chair of RPS England

I’m delighted that NHS England, through the Pharmacy Integration Fund, have invested in creating 180 new jobs for pharmacists and 60 for technicians in care homes across the country.  There are huge benefits for residents in having a pharmacist involved in reviewing their medicines.

The average age of residents in care homes for the elderly is now 85 and they are prescribed an average of 7 or 8 medicines a day, though there are many are on more than that.  Those medicines can bring side-effects which in turn lead to loss of quality of life, so by rationalising those medicines, very often reducing the number taken, people feel better and the NHS saves money too.

Team work

Integration is a new buzzword which is the direction of travel for NHS delivery of health services. Pharmacists and technicians are a key part of the multidisciplinary team of GPs, nurses, geriatricians, and care home staff that look after residents. We need to all work together to provide residents with specialist clinical medication reviews to keep them from harm and keep them out of hospital. Here’s a great example of a care home pharmacist who is part of these reviews in the E & N Hertfordshire vanguard programme.

Residents’ relatives are also vital to such reviews and a very positive consequence is that their relationships with their loved ones often improve as a result of medication changes as the resident feels better and can be more communicative. The overall results in E&N Herts are astounding.  Since December 2015, their care home pharmacy team reviewed 1,426 residents and 13,786 medicines, stopped 2,238 unnecessary medicines including 681 with a falls risk, saved £354,498 in drug costs and an estimated £650,000 in hospital admission costs. They’ve also made a video about the way the vanguard programme was set up and the impact it had.

Challenging ourselves

By investing in pharmacists, commissioners are investing in their older, vulnerable populations and in better outcomes for patients.  By challenging ourselves to work in different ways and across traditional boundaries, we can grow as professionals, be part of a new way of working that enables us to demonstrate the benefits pharmacy can bring and deliver a better standard of care than ever before. It’s not always easy to do this, but it’s essential. Provision of services by pharmacists across settings is the game changer that NHS organisations are working towards.

Our Regional Liaison Pharmacists

RPS England has just appointed four Regional Liaison Pharmacists, who will be approaching local Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships amongst others to ensure they understand the contribution that pharmacists can make to the health needs of their local populations and so provide services that fit local needs. They will also discuss new integrated ways of working and ensure that pharmacists are part of this, including these new opportunities in care homes.

New jobs

I’ve received many requests for information about the new roles in care homes and these are still being worked on by NHS England.  I suggest keeping an eye on www.jobs.nhs.uk and of course the RPS will keep you up to date on developments.