At the last Scottish Parliament election in May, over 40% of the MSPs who were elected had never served in the Parliament before. For many of them, there is low awareness of what pharmacy does these days beyond dispensing. Other services on offer, and other sectors of the profession, are a mystery to many of the new intake.
To help fix that, we are running a programme of pharmacy tours so new MSPs can see what pharmacists do for patients. The tour we arrange is a broad introduction that covers the four major areas of the Scottish community pharmacy contract. This covers:
- Dispensing: How vital it is that medicines are dispensed accurately and safely
- Public Health: The growing role of pharmacists in communicating public health campaigns and carrying out brief interventions and clinics on issues such as smoking cessation
- Minor Ailments Service: Which allows pharmacists to provide treatment for a range of minor illnesses, free of charge, to anyone who is exempt from prescription charges
- Chronic Medication Service: This new service will see pharmacists take a bigger role in the pharmaceutical care of patients with long-term conditions
We want Scotland’s politicians to understand the bigger picture of what the pharmacy profession does. We want to build on that first introduction by then showing how hospital pharmacy and pharmacists running primary care clinics extends expert pharmaceutical care to all areas of the NHS. We also want to explain how the managed service works to coordinate and support pharmacists across Scotland’s health board areas.
Taking a tour of a pharmacy is also the best way to show what the main issues confronting the profession in Scotland today are. This means we talk about the need to decriminalise dispensing errors, gaining access to patients’ health records, improving medicines distribution and breaking down barriers to pharmacist prescribing. These issues were summarised in the manifesto we produced for Scotland in consultation with our members.
So far, many of the new MSPs have been very happy to take us up on our offer. We’ve had 25 MSPs express interest. Our autumn has been full finding local pharmacies to take part and then matching times in the diaries of pharmacists, MSPs and someone from the RPS team.
Contact us if you would like to take part, either as a host pharmacist or as an MSP and we will be more than happy to set a visit up.