Setting the standards for information sharing

by Stephen Goundrey-Smith, RPS Pharmacy Informatics Advisor

We are moving towards better integrated health and care in the UK. As part of the drive to support this, new pharmacy services are useful for helping people with long-term and complex conditions to stay well in the community and take their medicines properly. This in turn means people are able to take more control of their own conditions and manage them better from home, with the support of professionals when needed. However, this system can only work if it is supported by good information sharing. Read more Setting the standards for information sharing

Mental Health – awareness counts, action matters.

by Sarah Steel MRPharmS, RPS Wales Policy and Practice Co-ordinator

Sarah Steel MRPharmS, Policy and Practice Coordinator

Over recent years, mental health has become something of a global conversation, a buzzword, a hashtag. Remove the stigma. Break the silence. Be open, talk, share.

Awareness is fantastic, conversation is progressive but how we act is what matters. An episode of mental illness is frightening, frustrating and isolating. As a pharmacist and a patient I have seen mental ill health from both sides and both are scary. People involved on both sides are often scared about the same things. What is ok to say? How do I act? How do I not make this worse? Awkwardness can be destructive.

Admitted to hospital, as a patient in crisis it was exhausting being asked again and again by different people what medication I was taking. No, I didn’t bring with me the third lot of meds that my doctor has prescribed that right now aren’t helping me feel better. I desperately wanted to get better, but I especially wanted and needed to be treated as a person, recognised as a person at a time when I felt so much less than that.

Read more Mental Health – awareness counts, action matters.

My experience as an RPS English Pharmacy Board member

Sharon Buckle is Vice Chair of the RPS English Pharmacy Board and a Pharmacy Manager for Boots.

In June 2012 I was delighted to be elected onto the English Pharmacy Board. I was so honoured and so determined that we would be a bold, decisive and happening board, making a difference for our Profession.

If I could sum up in 3 words what is required of a board member, I would cite three characteristics:

  • Passionate
  • Persistent
  • Pragmatic

I made 3 pre-election pledges:
1/ to push for the sharing of patient records with pharmacists
2/ to fight for decriminalisation of single dispensing errors
3/ to raise the profile of pharmacists with Government, politicians and medics

In 2018 we are well on the way to delivering all three! Read more My experience as an RPS English Pharmacy Board member

Revalidation for pharmacy professionals

By Nigel Clarke, Chair, General Pharmaceutical Council

Over the past three years, the General Pharmaceutical Council has done a great deal of work on professionalism – how to ensure that the standards we set support professionalism; and, as important, how to assure patients and the public that registrants are upholding these standards and keeping up with their knowledge and skills, and with new developments in the professions.

This work has coincided with a period of change in the pharmacy sector – changes in the healthcare landscape, the role of pharmacy and the expectations placed on pharmacy professionals; and changes in the core knowledge and skills required to deliver safe, effective, person-centred care.

As a part of this effort, we have engaged with members of the profession, with patients, and with other healthcare professionals to hear their views on professionalism, and, in particular, how they can be assured that pharmacy professionals have up-to-date knowledge and up-to-date understanding of issues affecting healthcare, pharmacy and the way care is delivered.    Based on their feedback, and underpinned by the findings in the pilot programme we undertook last year to test our approach, we have proposed to introduce revalidation for pharmacy professionals.   That proposal is the subject of our recent consultation on revalidation.

.    Our approach aims to do away with exhaustive record keeping and ‘tick-box’ exercises – which many registrants felt were no longer fit for purpose, and the public find hard to equate with professional development – and introduce a more thoughtful approach to ensuring that professional development is not just documented, but embedded in practice.    Our proposal incorporates peer discussion, and reflection on the GPhC’s standards for pharmacy professionals and registrants’ individual practice to provide meaningful reassurance to the public that real learning and improvement are taking place.

Among the key changes we are proposing with revalidation are: reducing the number of required CPD records from nine to four; conducting a peer discussion with a colleague or someone who understands your work; and writing a reflective account detailing how you are meeting one or more of the standards for pharmacy professionals. We are also proposing that, rather than ‘calling’ records periodically for review, the GPhC would require them to be submitted annually; with a small sample (about 2.5 per cent) randomly selected for review.

This approach is designed to underpin the professional approach of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, and reflects too the way in which other professions are now engaging in revalidation. It is based upon the view that a consistent pursuit of improvement in practice is the best way to ensure ongoing high standards within pharmacy, and with it greater safety for the public and patients. During our initial pilot, this approach has been widely supported by the professionals who took part.

I would encourage all pharmacy professionals to weigh in with their views on our proposal.  Have there been any points or considerations that we’ve missed?  Are there any changes that we need to make?  Are there emphases that we’ve not properly understood?

And while it is likely that the final plan will not come into effect until 2020, pharmacy professionals can and should begin to prepare themselves now for the inevitable changes that will come from this effort.

As a start, I would encourage all registrants to read the new standards for pharmacy professionals, which sit at the heart of the proposals for revalidation.   Understanding the standards and thinking how they can and should be embedded in practice will be an important best practice to embrace in preparation for revalidation when it comes into effect.

Registrants can also begin to talk about their practice with their colleagues and peers.  The idea of a ‘peer discussion’ may feel daunting at first, but many of our pilot volunteers realised they were already having these kinds of conversations, albeit informally, and that the candid insights and advice they received helped to improve their practice.    So, I would urge you to reach out to colleagues and peers, or perhaps tap into the resources available to pharmacy professionals, such as the RPS Faculty, and start these conversations.

Revalidation will be an important step for the pharmacy sector and for the GPhC as its regulator.   Aside from assuring the public that pharmacy professionals are maintaining high standards of practice and improvement, our revalidation proposal represents our commitment to regulating in a way that is flexible, that supports professionalism and that is fit for today’s pharmacy and healthcare environment.  I look forward to sharing some of the feedback we hear from our consultation when I speak at the RPS conference in September.   I hope to see you there.

Opportunities in community pharmacy

By Valerie Sillito, Community Pharmacist

When I qualified , a long long time ago…. pharmacy was all about supply i.e. making powders, compounding creams by the kg, hand filling capsules and many other arcane activities. If a local GP actually asked me for my opinion I was more likely to have a heart attack, never mind come up with a useful suggestion. Of course the BNF only ran to about a 100 pages and the drug shelves were relatively empty (we didn’t have a drug database as this was the handwriting era!).

So, if you were to ask me then what the opportunities in the future might be I suspect it would have been a very limited list.

Now community pharmacy has come on in such leaps and bounds I hardly recognise myself. To name but a few activities: supply of EHC, NRT, treating UTIs and Chlamydia, CPUS (community pharmacy urgent supply) substance misuse services, flu vaccinations, medication reviews, warfarin clinics and those are just the ones under PGDs (patient group directives). Many pharmacies now also offer private services, i.e. the patient has to pay up front, for travel vaccinations, HPV and meningitis B vaccinations, erectile dysfunction and hair loss treatment to name but a few and a very recent innovation has been a sore throat service with treatment if required.

Read more Opportunities in community pharmacy

Patient safety first

By Robbie Turner, RPS Director for England

The publication of the first report by the Community Pharmacy Patient Safety Group is a welcome development which should be applauded.

Bringing together representatives of community pharmacies large and small they have demonstrated a real commitment to openness, transparency, and in learning from each other to improve the safety of the people they serve.

Transparency

The use of real life examples as part of the report has, unsurprisingly, led to a focus on the aspects that have gone wrong in the past rather than the work being done to prevent these happening again. This was always going to be a risk for the group but they took a decision that the real life examples helped to demonstrate why they have made some of the recommendations they have. I think this was a good and brave decision.

If we are to continue to improve the safety of services we provide as pharmacists it is essential that we are able to share our mistakes and discuss how we, as a profession, think they can be prevented from happening again.

The future

The work of the Community Pharmacy Patient Safety Group is an important step towards a safer future for our patients and the public.

To really deliver a future where pharmacists and their teams can be open and transparent when they make honest mistakes we need to remove the fear of being automatically criminalised for reporting dispensing errors.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society believes that the move to decriminalise single dispensing errors is long overdue and is lobbying hard to ensure this is delivered as soon as possible by the government.

Choose Pharmacy

Jodie Williamson MRPharms
Jodie Williamson MRPharms

by Jodie Williamson MRPharmS, Pharmacist at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society

In November 2015 the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Wales claimed that we need 400 more GPs in Wales by 2020 to avert a crisis in our NHS. We are frequently told about the crisis facing GPs. But did you know that many health problems can be resolved without the need for a GP appointment? Your local pharmacist is there to provide advice and support for a number of common complaints and in some cases, they can even provide treatment on prescription or free of charge.

There are a number of pharmacy services available across Wales. It’s worth Find your local pharmacy services, and using your pharmacy as your first point of contact for any non-emergency medical needs. Here’s a round-up of just some of the services on offer across Wales:

Choose Pharmacy

This service has been developed to help relieve pressure on GPs. It gives pharmacists access to a summary of a patient’s GP record, provided the patient gives their consent for them to view it. This improves patient safety and allows pharmacists to treat minor conditions through the Common Ailments Service (CAS). This allows you to see your pharmacist for a long list of common conditions, including hayfever and conjunctivitis, and you will receive advice and any necessary treatment free of charge. It is currently available in more than 220 pharmacies in Wales and the Welsh Government has made funding available to roll it out to all pharmacies in Wales by 2020.

Stop Smoking Services

All pharmacists are able to provide advice and support to those wishing to stop smoking, and in many pharmacies quitting aids such as nicotine patches, lozenges and chewing gum are available free of charge through the smoking cessation services available.

Triage and Treat

If you live in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion or Pembrokeshire, or are even visiting the area on holiday, you can access the triage and treat service. It is available in a number of pharmacies across the West Wales area, offering treatment for a range of low level injuries and potentially saving you a trip to A&E or the doctor. The list of injuries that they can treat includes:
• Minor cuts and wounds
• Sprains and strains
• Eye complaints e.g. sand in the eye
• Removal of items from the skin e.g. splinters or shell fragments
• Minor burns including sunburn.
You can get advice on managing the above injuries from any pharmacy, but this service enables pharmacists to offer additional onsite treatment.

Emergency Contraception

You don’t need to see your GP for emergency contraception (often referred to as the morning after pill). It is available to buy over the counter from most pharmacies, and many pharmacists are also registered to provide it free of charge following a short consultation to make sure it is appropriate for you to take. This will be done in a private consultation room and you don’t need to tell anyone else what you are there for – just ask for a private chat with the pharmacist.
At a time when the NHS is under enormous pressure, think about visiting your local pharmacist first – if they can’t help they will be able to refer you to the best person for your needs.

Hypertension Awareness Month: An opportunity to highlight the role of pharmacy

Maree ToddArticle by Maree Todd MSP, highlighting the issues of patients with hypertension as part of Hypertension Awareness Month and the important role pharmacists play in supporting them. Before becoming an MSP in 2016, Maree was a pharmacist at New Craigs Psychiatric Hospital in Inverness.

This week I held a member’s debate in the Scottish Parliament to mark world Hypertension month.

I was pleased to be able to highlight the condition as a pharmacist turned parliamentarian, particularly since I am co-convenor of the cross-party group on heart and stroke. I wanted to remind everyone that this condition can be diagnosed with a very simple test, and it’s easy to treat. Around 30% of adults in Scotland have high blood pressure. It’s very common indeed. So why do we need to raise awareness about it? Read more Hypertension Awareness Month: An opportunity to highlight the role of pharmacy

How pharmacy can raise public awareness of health issues

by Tricia Armstrong

Community pharmacists have historically been the most accessible healthcare professionals and have successfully taken part in many public health campaigns, such as stop smoking services. In recent years the role of the pharmacist has become more diverse with pharmacists offering more services, such as flu vaccinations. Patients are looking for convenience and accessibility and pharmacists often meet these needs by providing services in the evenings and at weekends. In an article by Anderson and Thornley (2012), the authors discuss the reasons why patients, who are entitled to free NHS flu vaccinations, are prepared to pay for vaccinations because the service is more easily accessible in pharmacies. Read more How pharmacy can raise public awareness of health issues