Strengthening Pharmacy in Scotland

Rose Marie ParrArticle by Rose Marie Parr, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, Scottish Government

On 21 August 2017, I launched the new pharmacy strategy for Scotland: Achieving Excellence in Pharmaceutical Care which sets out the priorities, commitments and actions for improving and integrating pharmacy services in Scotland.

During the launch I had the pleasure of visiting both a community pharmacy and a GP practice in Port Glasgow to meet health and social care practitioners to talk about the way pharmacy services are adapting and enhancing care in the NHS. At the community pharmacy in Port Glasgow, pharmacists and pharmacy staff are taking part in a pilot project to extend the national Minor Ailment Service (MAS).  This initiative involves extending MAS eligibility to all people registered with a GP practice in Inverclyde. It also expands the range of conditions that can be treated by using Patient Group Directions (PGDs) to cover conditions such as impetigo, uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women and shingles.  This has benefits to people and practitioners alike. It allows quick access to medicines advice and a prescription (if needed) without an appointment and at times of the day when the local surgery might be closed.  It also releases GP capacity to provide care and makes best use of the pharmacists extensive expertise on medicines.

I also saw at first-hand, at the Port Glasgow Health Centre, how pharmacy teams are being assimilated into GP practice, delivering care in multidisciplinary teams.  The pharmacists based in the GP practice are dealing with the many medication-related problems and issues that arise in the GP practice, as well as providing mediation reviews and prescribing and adjusting medication where appropriate. Some pharmacists and pharmacy technicians also spend part of their time based in care homes delivering similar services.

These two examples of new models of pharmaceutical care are being replicated across Scotland. And that’s not all. Our strategy details commitments to transform hospital pharmacy services, and in developing new ways to provide pharmaceutical care with consultations by video conferencing to individuals living in remote and rural settings.  We are also evaluating the benefits of using sophisticated robots to collate, store, scan and issue medication within both community pharmacies and hospital pharmacies.

As an advocate for continual education and training, I realise that much of this work has relied on pharmacists and their teams learning new skills. NHS Education for Scotland has been instrumental in designing and providing training programmes which include vocational training, prescribing and advanced clinical skills.

I am looking forward to working with the profession and other key stakeholders to deliver the priorities for the future of NHS pharmaceutical care as set out in the strategy.

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