Asking patients using pharmacy services what they need

by Stephanie West, RPS Regional Liaison Pharmacist

In our previous blog, Nicky Gray spoke about the ‘strength and authenticity’ of relationships between stakeholders as central to successful integrated working. The same holds true when engaging the populations we serve. Promoting a positive patient experience of health and social care services, through providing integrated out-of-hospital care for patients, is a central aim for PCNs.

Community pharmacy has firm foundations to build upon. The National Healthwatch Report 2016 found that:

  • Three quarters of people say they would go to a pharmacist, rather than a GP, to get medication for a minor illness.
  • Over half would go to a pharmacist to seek advice for a specific minor illness or injury.
  • A third of people would consider using a pharmacy instead of visiting a GP for general medical advice.’

Community pharmacy was also the healthcare service of choice for ‘traditionally harder to engage groups.’ Significantly, the report found that participants ‘trusted the pharmacist’.

Asking patients

One thing that strikes me is – how are patients being consulted and educated about the increasing clinical services delivered by pharmacists? How is the patient voice being captured?

GP Practices have engaged with patients through Patient Participation Groups for many years, to make sure ‘that their practice puts the patient, and improving health, at the heart of everything it does’ These could be a useful forum to capture patient views on new ways of accessing care from the wider PCN team. If you are part of a group focussing on the role of pharmacists in the practice, please get in touch.

Community pharmacists have to conduct an annual patient survey. This focuses on traditional services and advice-giving and could be developed to raise awareness of different clinical services. 

The Berwick Review called for the NHS to ‘Engage, empower, and hear patients and carers at all times’. NHS Trusts have patient and public engagement strategies, recognising the importance of capturing patient views. There are opportunities to do this, many trusts will have patient representation on their Medicines Safety Committee, but can we engage them more widely as strategies for pharmacy and medicines optimisation are developed across Integrated Care Systems?

Shared decision-making

Liberating the NHS: No decision about me without me  focussed on shared-decision making. How are pharmacists ensuring that patients are fully involved in decisions about their own care and treatment? How is pharmacy linked with local communities, groups and networks? NICE Guidance identifies Shared decision-making as ‘an essential part of evidence-based medicine’ and the NHS Patient Safety Strategy 2019 commits to: ‘Commission shared decision-making (SDM) training for clinical pharmacists moving into PCNs, to work with patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) on anticoagulants’.

Get in touch

Our new System Leadership Resource section on ‘Culture Change’ includes a focus on meaningful engagement with local people. If you have a case study showing how you have improved health outcomes or developed a service through patient engagement, shared-decision making and/or co-production we would like to share your insights so please do contact us.


 


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RPS supports availability of sildenafil in pharmacies

Martin Astburyby RPS President Martin Astbury

The MHRA have today posted a consultation about the switch of sildenafil from a prescription only medicine to a pharmacy medicine, which means it must be sold under the supervision of a pharmacist.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society fully supports the application for sildenafil to move from prescription only (POM) to pharmacy medicine (P) status so it can be provided directly by pharmacists for erectile dysfunction (ED). Read more RPS supports availability of sildenafil in pharmacies

How can community pharmacy and general practice work better together?

howard-duff

By Howard Duff, Director for England, Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Both professions operate under nationally arranged contracts which seem to be looking to achieve two different outcomes. There are many good reasons why pharmacy has benefited from this national approach and we believe that some things must remain nationally organised. However the NHS is different place today than it was when the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework was introduced many years ago.

The Five Year Forward View (FYFV) presents both the case for change and a blueprint for its trajectory. It signposts the way forward and as a profession we must “go with the flow” and not “swim against the tide”. By that I mean that the FYFV describes ways that changes will be supported to happen in the NHS. These are locally driven and they are expected to be initiated and taken forward by local leaders. We need those local leaders in pharmacy to step up and make this change happen in a way that includes the role of pharmacists. I believe that this will both improve patient care and also help to make the NHS more efficient. If we are not alert to the local change agenda then I fear that pharmacy will be left behind.

The mechanisms for change that can include community pharmacy are the multispeciality community providers, primary and acute care systems and better care for patients in care homes. These have been well documented in the press and they provide plenty of scope for community pharmacy involvement. Ah yes but it’s hard, I can hear people saying, we tried to get involved but this was an issue or that was too problematic. Or we were described in the vanguard bid but it’s proving hard to get through the co-commissioning issues to get the service off the ground. I understand all of these things and I must praise those who have managed to overcome the barriers and put community pharmacy onto the FYFV map.

This is not right though is it? Neither is it good enough. We are the third largest healthcare profession, we manage over £8 billion worth of NHS investment in medicines and yet it seems unbelievably difficult for us to help out the struggling NHS and help provide excellent patient care. The RPS English Pharmacy Board wants to facilitate making the inclusion of pharmacist-led care through community pharmacy easier. We want to promote it to other professions, patients and importantly commissioners. We need your help and support to do this – so respond to our consultation and tell us how you think patient care can be improved.

You can take part in our consultation through the RPS website. Read the ‘improving patient care through better general practice and community pharmacy integration’ consultation document and respond with your comments using the consultation form.

Howard Duff, Director for England, The Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

Follow: @HowardDuff