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.

 

Sharpen your influencing skills: learn the art of debate

Catriona Bradley from the Irish Institute of Pharmacy

Have you ever had to justify a professional decision? Did your influencing skills fall short? FIP has invited experts in the art of debating to consider an issue at the heart of the pharmacy profession – continuing professional development – and to help congress participants understand and acquire the skills needed to debate effectively.

“As pharmacists, it’s important that we’re able to look at any argument or any proposal about our profession from [different] viewpoints and to be able to set aside our own believes and values,” says Catriona Bradley, of the Irish Institute of Pharmacy, Ireland. Read more Sharpen your influencing skills: learn the art of debate

The important thing to remember is: VOTE!

by Chris Bonsell, Locum Pharmacist and RPS West Yorkshire Steering Group Member

Benjamin Franklin once mused ‘Nothing can be certain, except death and taxes’. If he was alive today he might have included: …and nothing can be certain in the outcome of this year’s English Pharmacy Board elections! This year we see 14 nominations for only four substantive vacancies to the EPB.

Pharmacy has been going through great change for many years and the way we work is very different now from 10 years ago or even 5 years ago. Pharmacists are now more clinically focused, working in new and emerging roles and are leaders within systems and organisations which at one time would have seemed unthinkable. We play a more pivotal role in patient-centred care, educating the public and in the prevention of disease.

Members of the EPB have a responsibility to be effective in their representation of all pharmacists across all sectors and to be vanguards of the profession. They should be inspirational not only to those who elected them but also to pharmacists throughout the country still to join the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. Read more The important thing to remember is: VOTE!

Drugs according to Daniel Hanbury

By Karen Horn, RPS Librarian

In 1842, knowledge of the origin and identity of imported crude drugs was limited. Drug adulteration was a problem recognised by the Pharmaceutical Society, much as it still is today.

To build public trust in pharmacists the Society decided that would-be members should be able to identify crude drugs, detect adulteration and know a drug’s botanical and geographical sources.  This is how materia medica came to be included as a subject for study at the Society’s newly opened School of Pharmacy. Read more Drugs according to Daniel Hanbury

RPS Elections – your opportunity to meet candidates for the RPS Boards

by Neal Patel, RPS Head of Communications and Engagement

Every year the RPS asks members and Fellows of the Society to stand as Board Members in England, Scotland and Wales. This year we have elections in both England and Wales, but not in Scotland.

To allow all RPS members to find out more about the candidates in Wales and England we are holding an online question and answer session – also known as ‘hustings’ – between 7pm and 8pm on the 17th of April. Read more RPS Elections – your opportunity to meet candidates for the RPS Boards

Working at system level on care homes

by Wasim Baqir, National pharmacy lead on care homes, NHS England

NHS England has announced 180 new jobs for pharmacists and 60 for pharmacy technicians as part of the drive to improve patient care and the use of medicines in care homes.  At a system level, here’s how it will work – and I promise, it’s not as hard as it sounds!

STPs/ICS

The NHS and local councils came together in 2016 to form 44 Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) with a vision to improve health and care for local people across whole areas rather than individual organisations. Following on from the Vanguard programme, the NHS announced 10 Integrated Care Systems (ICS) that have been given greater operational and financial autonomy to manage their services. Read more Working at system level on care homes

Prescribing a revolution

by Robbie Turner, RPS Director for England

During my career as a pharmacist, who is able to prescribe has changed beyond recognition.

From nurses through to pharmacists and allied healthcare professionals, more and more of us are studying for a prescribing qualification. It’s driving a revolution in healthcare and increasing access for patients.

The NHS needs solutions to the pressures it faces and maximising the skill mix of the existing workforce as part of the push for more integrated care is giving the profession significant opportunities. Read more Prescribing a revolution

No you don’t need a PhD to pursue a career in the Pharmaceutical Industry!

Professor Luigi G Martini FRPharmS, FEIPG, Chief Pharmaceutical Scientist for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

Nor do you need to have done an Industrial pre-registration programme either! These are the two most commonly cited questions, or should I say myths, which are often directed at me.

So I have taken the opportunity in this blog to dispel a few myths as follows:

1) You do not need to have a PhD to work in industry, but it does help if you want to work in Research and Drug Discovery. However, there are many roles in Product Development, Manufacturing and Commercial which exist for pharmacists.

2) You do not need to undertake a pre-registration year in industry, and with only 11 such programmes in the UK, they are highly competitive and thus restricted with respect to demand. In fact, pharmacists who have trained and worked in community and hospital are highly regarded by the industry.

3) There has never been a better time to join the industry with pharmacists being highly desired for career paths in Medical Affairs, Regulatory Affairs, Pharmacovigilance and Quality Assurance.

Read more No you don’t need a PhD to pursue a career in the Pharmaceutical Industry!