Dispensing doctors and pharmacists working side-by-side

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABy Aileen Bryson, Policy and Practice Lead, RPS Scotland

The viability of dispensing doctor practices and the threat of pharmacy applications has been all over the media recently and yesterday BBC Radio Scotland reported from Aberfoyle, interviewing the local practice and the prospective pharmacy owner. They then came to us for our views on the whole situation. It was interesting that one rather well know resident seemed to be of the opinion that a ‘real doctor ‘giving them their medicines was preferable to a ‘chemist ‘.

How do we change the public perception of pharmacists expertise and role in patient care? How many in the general public know that pharmacists spend five years training in all aspects of medicines and that it is a unique skill? How many people know that pharmacists are now independent prescribers?
The Scottish Government’s “Prescription for Excellence” was published last year and we must now all work at turning this vision into a reality with a much bigger patient facing role.

Are your patients aware of the interventions you make on their behalf to make sure they get the best use of their medicines and to keep them safe whether they are buying products over the counter or obtaining medicines on prescription?

We totally support dispensing practices where there is a need in remote and rural areas but this should not deprive the public of the expertise of a pharmacist and we need to look at different models of delivering this.

Pharmacy tele-health for management of long term conditions could be an important route to ensure  access to pharmaceutical care, especially in the most remote areas of Scotland. With health and social care integration on the agenda all health and social care professionals need to work together and be innovative to support their local communities.

As a profession we need to be more visible and make more use of our unique selling point as the experts in medicines. Health boards also need to consider flexible solutions for their local areas to ensure that the public have access to the complementary skills of both pharmacists and doctors. Doctors diagnosing and pharmacists prescribing would deliver the safest and most effective patient care. When do you think we will get there?