Outside the comfort zone – getting involved in politics as an RPS member

by Elin Gwyn MRPharmS, Palliative Care Pharmacist, Betsi Cadwalladr Health Board

The latest meeting of the Welsh Assembly’s Cross Party Group on Hospice and Palliative Care was recently held at on Friday 23rd November. Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Wales asked me to attend the meeting on its behalf. With RPS having just recently launched its policy on palliative and end of life care, its engagement and membership of this group is very timely.

The purpose of cross party groups is to bring together groups and organizations with expertise in a particular policy area with Assembly members who are interested in the same area. The cross party groups don’t have power, but they are used to raise Assembly members’ awareness of issues related to the field so that they can scrutinise and challenge the government and the NHS more effectively.

Read more Outside the comfort zone – getting involved in politics as an RPS member

Rpharms.com – why so different?

We’ve been listening to your feedback about rpharms.com. You told us you love the content on the site, but it can be hard to find. You also told us some of the best bits of RPS membership are hidden and it’s not always clear what we do for pharmacy.

So, say “hello” to our new website – designed by…you!

The new site will give you a clear view about what we do and how we do it

Recognition. Development. Publications.

We’ve moved the good stuff to the top so it’s easier to find and navigate – you’ll find a consistent theme across the site, and all our communications.

  • We drive recognition of pharmacy through our campaigns to secure the future for the profession. We make sure your voice is heard across Government and in the media
  • Our publications, from the Pharmaceutical Journal, BNF, MEP and Pharmacy guides, help you provide safe and effective medicine use for your patients
  • We support your development at all stages of your career, from students, pre-reg’s, newly qualified and more experienced pharmacists, our development programmes match your career goals.

I’m really proud of what the team at RPS has achieved with the new site. We believe it’s clear and easier to use. Of course we will be updating and changing as we get feedback from you. We’ve also got further improvements planned to make the website experience even better. Let me know if you love the site, if you hate it, or if you have any suggestions about improvements @nealcpatel

Pharmacy in prison – uniquely challenging, uniquely rewarding

Tom Cox MRPharmS, Community Pharmacist and RPS Welsh Pharmacy Board member
Tom Cox MRPharmS, Lead Prison Pharmacist, North Wales

by Tom Cox MRPharmS, Lead Prison Pharmacist.

Medicines optimisation in prison – the challenge

It’s long been recognised within prison populations that there’s a high prevalence of substance use disorder in connection with prescription medicines. This is often found alongside problematic polypharmacy situations.[i] My main objective as a Lead Prison Pharmacist is to optimise medicines and resolve problematic polypharmacy, to try and rehabilitate people held in custody.

Medicines optimisation within a prison takes many forms, just as it does in other areas of health care. It starts with comprehensive medicines reconciliation when people arrive at the prison. Compared with the general population, people in custody have often lived chaotic lifestyles, either on the outside of prison, or perhaps in other prisons, so the first step is to understand what they have been taking, and how they have or have not been managing their medicines.

A particular problem we encounter during medicines reconciliation is that when a person arrives in prison, they often have other people’s prescription medicines in their possession, as well as their own. This forms important evidence for any resulting medicines optimisation.

Read more Pharmacy in prison – uniquely challenging, uniquely rewarding

World AIDS Day 2018: When a friend has AIDS

by John Betts, RPS Museum, Keeper of the Museum Collections

The history of pharmacy is usually thought of in terms of drug development and its ability to transform patient’s lives. Rarely do museums have an object in their collection that communicates what it was like to live with a life-threatening illness before there were any effective treatments.

The RPS Museum has a leaflet published by GMHC (Gay Men’s Health Crisis) in 1984, at the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which does just that.

When A Friend Has AIDS provides advice to the friends of people living with AIDS on how they can offer them support.

Written with a great deal of compassion, it gives a moving insight into what living with HIV/AIDS was like at this time, from both the patient’s and friend’s point of view. Reading it never fails to move me to tears. Read more World AIDS Day 2018: When a friend has AIDS

Who will Chris choose for his peer discussion?

As the season of good will is fast approaching, I am hoping I can persuade someone to act as my peer for my peer discussion as part of revalidation (I will resort to offering bribery in the form of mince pies etc. if necessary).

Previously I wrote in this blog about my own journey with staying on the register of pharmacists and how I would be approaching the peer discussion – one of the new ways us pharmacists have to keep up-to-date.  Last time it was the ‘what’, now I’m considering the ‘who’. Read more Who will Chris choose for his peer discussion?

A good life to the very end…

Chief Pharmacist and Clinical Director of Pharmacy and Medicines management for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board
Darell Baker, Chief Pharmacist and Clinical Director of Pharmacy and Medicines management for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board

by Darrell Baker FFRPS, Chief Pharmacist and Clinical Director of Pharmacy and Medicines management for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board

A good life to the very end…

For human beings, life is meaningful because it is a story, and in stories endings matter
(Atul Gawande)

Quality palliative and end of life care is important and medicines can have a key role to play in facilitating that quality of care for many of our patients. On behalf of the Chief Pharmacists in NHS Wales, I am pleased to have supported the development of the RPS Wales policy document and to endorse its key recommendations.

 

Focusing on the individual

Understanding what quality end of life care looks (and feels) like for an individual is an important starting point. Pharmacy staff need to work as integrated members of the multi-professional team around the patient, with access to clinical information about the patient. This way, we are able to respect their wishes and support effective implementation of treatment and symptom management plans, regardless of location.

Read more A good life to the very end…

How does the Faculty help Pharmacist Independent Prescribers?

By Rob Davies, Pharmacist Independent Prescriber and member of the Welsh Pharmacy Board.

Practice as an Independent Prescriber (IP) involves continuous learning, continuous quality improvement if you like, to ensure that practice always advances to meet patients’ needs.

I see the link between the RPS Faculty and the IP role as a virtuous circle. Prescribing helps my Faculty portfolio, which in turn helps my continuous development as an IP. My prescribing role, subsequent mentorship of colleagues and teaching contributed to my Faculty portfolio, particularly in clusters 1 and 5, ‘Expert Professional Practice’ and ‘Education, Teaching and Development’. Read more How does the Faculty help Pharmacist Independent Prescribers?

Putting antimicrobial stewardship in a global context

By Diane Ashiru-Oredope, Global AMR lead, Commonwealth Pharmacists Association

The independent Review on Antimicrobial Resistance estimated that at least 700,000 deaths each year globally are attributable to drug resistance infections such as bacterial infections, malaria and HIV/AIDS. Unless action is taken, it is thought the burden of deaths from AMR could balloon to 10 million lives each year by 2050 and cost the global economy up to $100 trillion US Dollars.

To help address this, the Department of Health, through the Fleming Fund, has just launched the new Commonwealth Partnerships for Antimicrobial Stewardship (CwPAMS) scheme. This pioneering pharmacy-led initiative will send up to 12 volunteer teams of NHS pharmacists and specialist nurses to Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia to work with local health workers to jointly tackle AMR. The scheme is now open for applications.

CwPAMS will help improve the detection and monitoring of resistant infections at the hospital level, take measures to reduce infection and put in place steps to use antibiotics effectively – all of which will help to keep antibiotics working better for longer whilst helping to stop the emergence of superbugs. The scheme is being led by The Tropical Health Education Trust and the Commonwealth Pharmacists’ Association (CPA) and is looking for multi-disciplinary approaches that involve pharmacy.

How will CwPAMS build capacity in AMS?

The CwPAMS programme will apply skills and knowledge from UK pharmacists to support capacity building for AMS in partner institutions. One important aspect of this is improving monitoring of antimicrobial consumption.

Robust monitoring mechanisms are required to help make informed decisions on where to focus efforts to reduce unnecessary use of antimicrobials, and assess the impact initiatives are having. Whilst monitoring both antimicrobial consumption is included in all national action plans on AMR, the capacity to implement this in most low and middle income countries is low. Enhancing monitoring capacity for AMS can also support building wider systems capacity and enable more effective stock control.

How will the CwPAMS scheme benefit pharmacists in the NHS?

There are important benefits for NHS pharmacists not to overlook when considering whether to apply, including:

  • opportunities to develop frugal yet innovative solutions to share with the UK 11/9/2018
  • improved leadership capacity
  • increased job satisfaction
  • improved understanding of digital technology in health
  • greater understanding and experience of working with limited resources and appreciation of the cost of resources within the NHS
  • opportunities for professional development.

How can you get involved and what support is available?

CPA are encouraging pharmacists to apply for this new and exciting opportunity. We recognise applying for grants can seem daunting to those not well immersed in doing so; the RPS are able to offer a range of valuable support in preparing applications. Contact the RPS Research Support Service or email research@rpharms.com.

CPA & THET will also be providing training for those who are awarded grants. To find out more visit the CPA website which includes access to the grant call documents. The grant call closes on 4 January. You can also email the CPA team directly via amr@commonwealthpharmacy.org.

 

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