Heads down or heads up?

by Nicola Gray, RPS Regional Liaison Pharmacist

One of the privileges of being a Regional Liaison Pharmacist for RPS is having the opportunity to go and speak to pharmacists working across different sectors of care about their current work and their aspirations.

One common theme across all sectors for me has been the difficulty so many of us have in imagining a different practice scenario to the one we currently work in. The very real and constant pressure of daily work means that pharmacists often have to concentrate on traditional tasks to meet the needs of an increasing – and more complex – patient caseload. It might be the community pharmacist chasing yet another medicine in short supply; the chief pharmacist considering how to cover their on-call responsibilities; the academic pharmacist running the same lab 5 times to accommodate student numbers; or the GP practice pharmacist team leader covering several practices themselves because of the churn in their team. The common feature is ceaseless demand, which restricts our capacity to think and act strategically and to connect with the wider system.

Tied to the wheel

I’ve come to call it the ‘heads down’ phenomenon, but another pharmacist recently described it to me as being like ‘hamsters on wheels’. Those of us who are not caught in this cycle might become frustrated by a disappointing pharmacist response to funded offers of training, or worry that opportunities for strategic development will be missed because system leaders do not see demands from the profession for their ‘place at the table’. I believe that the ‘heads down’ phenomenon gives us a very reasonable explanation for why this might be – and a way to consider what we really have to do to facilitate change.

Looking up

Each of the four Regional Liaison Pharmacists has many stories of the innovators and local and national pharmacy leaders who are determined to look beyond the daily grind. For example, I attended the Greater Manchester Pharmacy LPN conference in the summer and awards were given there to pharmacists, pharmacy teams and multidisciplinary initiatives to celebrate solid innovation rooted in the needs of local populations. These awards showcased pharmacy-led improvements in patient safety and equitable access to services, which need acknowledging in a national healthcare system where both seem to be an increasing daily challenge.

Becoming part of a movement

The future of pharmacy has to be a system-wide movement united by a common cause and guided by shared values. Where I live in Greater Manchester, a recent meeting about workforce strategy – involving representatives from all patient-facing sectors – showed strong consensus around moves to affirm our shared identity there and use it as a basis to market pharmacy to patients, the public and other professions. This isn’t window dressing – it is fundamental to creating an effective movement.

As a representative of pharmacists in different roles in my past, and in the role that I perform for RPS now, my greatest nightmare is that promises will be made to local system leaders about pharmacy without the certainty that everyone else is committed to that cause. Conversely, the critical mass of pharmacists needed to give that support can only be created if they too feel part of a movement that is not just about another plan, or pilot, but that has the capacity to actually get us from where we are to where we really want to be.

In order to encourage more pharmacists to raise their heads, they will have to start to see small but meaningful positive changes in their daily work. Nothing less will do. This may be facilitated by shifts in commissioning to align incentives for pharmacists with value for patients. It may also be linked to better retention of pharmacists in localities and roles so that the work becomes more proactive than reactive. This will promote trusting personal relationships between pharmacists working in different sectors and with the wider healthcare team. The right approach will be decided at an increasingly local level, but support for these ‘local pharmacy movements’ from RPS and other national bodies and employers will help to sustain pharmacy leaders, and raise more heads up.

Why should you attend the ‘Women in Leadership: Survive and Thrive’?

by Emma Davies, Advanced Pharmacist Practitioner and Research Fellow at Swansea University.

Women form the majority of the pharmacy workforce and yet, are still under-represented in senior roles across all sectors. This Women in Leadership event is looking to explore some of the issues faced by women working in healthcare and how we can work together to overcome them.

My contribution

I am looking to share my experience of workplace bullying and how I have tried to turn negative experiences into motivation to succeed. I am hoping that by being open about what I have faced, it will encourage people who may be going through a similar experience to know that it doesn’t have to continue or prevent them from realising their potential. I am looking forward to hearing from attendees about how they might have dealt with similar experiences and what I can learn from that to strengthen my future and those I support.  Read more Why should you attend the ‘Women in Leadership: Survive and Thrive’?

The inspiring women of pharmacy

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International Women’s day celebrates the milestone achievements and the history of women, spreading awareness about their social, economic, cultural and political achievements, it also encourages a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

To mark this day, we chat to Hannah Batchelor, BSc, PhD, Director of Research for Pharmacy at the University of Birmingham about her current role, challenges and successes as a female in her profession and more importantly how to #BeBoldForChange. Read more The inspiring women of pharmacy

Identifying Leadership to help build your Faculty portfolio

Susan Ibrahim editedby Susan Youssef MFRPSII MRPharmS

Leadership inspires pharmacists and their teams to achieve high standards of performance and personal development. The Faculty leadership cluster ties into this by allowing you to record the many instances where leadership has been applied successfully as a pharmacist. Initially the way I approached the leadership cluster was by referring to the framework competencies and comparing these to my CPD records and my CV, I then selected suitable examples which I could use for the leadership cluster. Read more Identifying Leadership to help build your Faculty portfolio

Why your voice is needed for Health and Social Care integration

Aileen Bryson - Practice & Policy LeadBy Aileen Bryson MRPharmS, Scottish Practice and Policy Lead

Understanding prescribing budgets, the importance of medicines in modern healthcare and promoting health and wellbeing are just some of the challenges facing Health and Social Care Partnerships in the new integrated health and social care landscape. Read more Why your voice is needed for Health and Social Care integration

Interview with Sandra Melville, previous Chair and departing Scottish Board Member

Sandra MelvilleSandra Melville MSc, FRPharmS, FFRPS joined the Scottish Pharmacy Board in 2007, becoming Chair in 2008. During her time on the board, Sandra witnessed seismic changes to Scottish pharmacy, including the creation of the devolved Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Scotland and the introduction of Prescription of Excellence. Last month she supported RPS Scotland by giving evidence on Seven Day Services at the Health and Sport committee. Our director, Alex MacKinnon, interviews Sandra as she leaves the board to continue her work in hospital pharmacy in Oban. Read more Interview with Sandra Melville, previous Chair and departing Scottish Board Member

From idea to practice at the RPS Annual Conference

Terry blog

by Dr Terry Maguire, Honorary RPS Member, Owner Maguire Pharmacy, Belfast, and stream chair at the RPS Annual Conference 2015

Everyone has great ideas. Problems and frustrations stimulate us to come up with innovative solutions and better ways of doing things and it is generally the ideas of practitioners – those working at the coal face and who really understand the systems – which are more likely to be effective solutions. Read more From idea to practice at the RPS Annual Conference

Enhancing Patient Care through Research at the RPS Annual Conference

Bryonyby Professor Bryony Dean Franklin FRPharmS FFRPS, Director of the Centre for Medication Safety and Service Quality (CMSSQ) and stream chair for the RPS Annual Conference 2015

“Research and evaluation? What’s that got do with me?” Well – potentially quite a lot! If you want to improve the services that you provide, either by interpreting and applying the existing evidence or by conducting your own evaluations, then you will want to understand the principles of the research process. Read more Enhancing Patient Care through Research at the RPS Annual Conference

My Faculty journey: building a portfolio

Facultyby Greg Lawton MRPharmS, Professional Standards Manager, Boots

In this video blog, the third in the series, I talk about the Faculty portfolio, which has helped me to identify areas for development. I provide hints and tips for completing it, including making an initial list of your achievements and mapping them to the competency framework.
Read more My Faculty journey: building a portfolio

If you care, you can lead

marianneby Marianne MacDonald, RPS Leadership Workstream Project Manager

Do you care?

If you don’t think leadership is for you, the first thing to ask yourself is: do you care? Do you care about your team? Do you care about your patients? Do you care about the service you provide? For pharmacists, care is part and parcel of what we do. So, you’re probably already meeting some of the behaviours outlined in Domain 2 (Leading with care) of the new RPS Leadership Development Framework (LDF). Read more If you care, you can lead