Outside the comfort zone – getting involved in politics as an RPS member

by Elin Gwyn MRPharmS, Palliative Care Pharmacist, Betsi Cadwalladr Health Board

The latest meeting of the Welsh Assembly’s Cross Party Group on Hospice and Palliative Care was recently held at on Friday 23rd November. Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Wales asked me to attend the meeting on its behalf. With RPS having just recently launched its policy on palliative and end of life care, its engagement and membership of this group is very timely.

The purpose of cross party groups is to bring together groups and organizations with expertise in a particular policy area with Assembly members who are interested in the same area. The cross party groups don’t have power, but they are used to raise Assembly members’ awareness of issues related to the field so that they can scrutinise and challenge the government and the NHS more effectively.

Read more Outside the comfort zone – getting involved in politics as an RPS member

Pharmacy breakthroughs in mental health treatment

By Julie Wakefield, RPS Museum volunteer

From the 1950s onwards there have been significant breakthroughs in the medicines used to treat mental health problems.

In the early 1900s the drugs used in psychiatry were the ‘chemical straightjackets’ such as opiates, bromides, and barbiturates that simply sedated patients.

This all changed in the 1950s with the introduction of chlorpromazine for psychosis, lithium for bipolar disorder, and imipramine for depression.

It began a pharmacological revolution because it demonstrated that drugs, not just psychotherapy, could restore mental health.

Antidepressants

Imipramine was the first of a class of drugs called ‘tricyclic’ antidepressants. In 1955, researchers gave it to 40 depressed patients. The results were dramatically successful. The pharmaceutical firm Geigy had produced the first drug in the history of psychiatry that acted specifically against depression.

Since then many more of these drugs have been developed, with varying side effects. However, imipramine is still considered by many psychiatrists to be the gold standard of antidepressant therapy.

Antipsychotics for Schizophrenia

Many pharmacy historians have regarded chlorpromazine as the single most important drug in the history of psychiatry. Chlorpromazine treated the symptoms of schizophrenic psychosis with less sedation than previous drugs.

A trial on 38 psychotic patients in the early 1950s showed that it could not only calm the patient but also treat a whole range of their symptoms. These included hallucination, delusions, confusion, anxiety states and insomnia.

Chlorpromazine was the first of a class of drugs called ‘typical’ antipsychotics for schizophrenia. A dopamine antagonist, it works by blocking the uptake in the brain of excessive levels of the neurotransmitter (a chemical that helps transmit signals in the brain) dopamine, believed to partly cause the symptoms of schizophrenic psychosis.

Bipolar Disorder

Just as chlorpromazine brought relief to sufferers of schizophrenia, lithium carbonate, launched in 1954, became the ‘gold standard’ treatment for bipolar disorder. Lithium is a mood stabiliser used in the prevention and treatment of mania associated with bipolar disorder (manic depression).It is still the most common treatment today as it both treats and prevents mood disorders.

The pharmaceutical treatment of mental health in 2018

However despite the significant developments in psychiatric medication over the last 70 years, many patients with mental health problems are still not receiving a high enough standard of care.

As part of its mental health campaign, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society is exploring how pharmacy teams can help improve the physical health of people with mental health problems.  People with mental health problems often have more difficulty accessing healthcare than others and the life expectancy of those with a serious mental illness is 15-20 years less than average.

A key part of improving this is ensuring patients get the best outcomes from their medicines, so reducing adverse events, minimising avoidable harm and unplanned admissions to hospital, while using resources more efficiently to deliver the standard of care that people with mental health problems deserve.

How pharmacists can support older people with mental health issues: a personal view

By Dr Amanda Thompsell, Chair of the Faculty of Old Age Psychiatry of the Royal College of Psychiatrists

Having met with members of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society to talk about their mental health campaign it made me reflect on the many ways that pharmacists support older people with mental health issues.

Not only do pharmacists give helpful advice around reducing unnecessary medications, on side effects and potential drug interactions and ways to improve adherence, but pharmacists help in so many other ways that can go unnoticed. Read more How pharmacists can support older people with mental health issues: a personal view

Working at system level on care homes

by Wasim Baqir, National pharmacy lead on care homes, NHS England

NHS England has announced 180 new jobs for pharmacists and 60 for pharmacy technicians as part of the drive to improve patient care and the use of medicines in care homes.  At a system level, here’s how it will work – and I promise, it’s not as hard as it sounds!

STPs/ICS

The NHS and local councils came together in 2016 to form 44 Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) with a vision to improve health and care for local people across whole areas rather than individual organisations. Following on from the Vanguard programme, the NHS announced 10 Integrated Care Systems (ICS) that have been given greater operational and financial autonomy to manage their services. Read more Working at system level on care homes

How pharmacists can help people with learning disabilities

by Robbie Turner, RPS Director for England

Pharmacy teams in community, primary care and acute hospital settings see many people with learning disabilities.

You may not have attached that label to an individual, but you know that you need to use easy words and short sentences for this person, or take longer to show them how to take their medicines. You will know the people who have complex repeat prescriptions – or you will recognise the family member or support worker who hurries in to collect their medicines.

Pharmacists and their teams need to consider how to best communicate with this diverse group and make what are known as ‘reasonable adjustments’ under the Equality Act 2010 to ensure equality of access to pharmacy services.

to help them feel confident in engaging with this diverse group and gives examples of reasonable adjustments. Read more How pharmacists can help people with learning disabilities

RPS England responds to review of prescribing of certain products and medicines

Sandra Gidley 3by RPS England Chair Sandra Gidley

The NHS has traditionally provided treatment free at the point of use for both short term and life-long conditions.

Today, reporting shows this is being reconsidered.  This could be interpreted as an attack on this important principle.

Balanced against this view is the need for the NHS to be as cost effective as possible in a term of constrained resources. We understand the need for prioritisation. Read more RPS England responds to review of prescribing of certain products and medicines

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

A look into China’s history of pharmacy and herbal medicine

A72BB1 The Great Wall Mutianyu China

PILLS, PAGODAS AND PEKING DUCK: THE PHARMACY IN CHINA TOUR 2016

In November 2016, twenty RPS members had the chance to take part in the ‘Pharmacy in China Tour 2016. Fellow of the RPS Dr Stuart Anderson FRPharmS, led the trip, he shares his two week experience.

“When I was told in September 2015 that the RPS were hoping to support a study tour to China with Jon Baines tours and asked me if I might be interested in acting as tour leader I jumped at the chance, having previously visited Shanghai and Hong Kong. After a lot of planning and promotion the two-week Pharmacy in China Tour finally took place in November 2016.

Twenty of us met up for the first time at our hotel in Beijing on Saturday afternoon. It was a delightfully mixed group; some recently and some not so recently retired pharmacists and their partners, some still with very busy careers, either just beginning and others well established, and some pharmacy students who had managed to take time out from their studies. Backgrounds too extended from community pharmacy proprietors to hospital, regulatory and industrial pharmacists. In the evening we met up with our Chinese guide, Zhong (‘John’). Read more A look into China’s history of pharmacy and herbal medicine

Life as a consultant cancer pharmacist

steve williamson

Pharmacy has an important role to play regarding new and existing cancer treatments, we chat to Consultant Cancer Pharmacist and Chair of British Oncology Pharmacy Association, Steve Williamson MRPharmS (IPresc), MSc who explains his area of work in more detail.

What was your first contact with pharmacy as a profession?

When I was 16 I visited my local Hospital where my mum worked as an ITU nurse and met the clinical pharmacist who worked on her unit, after talking to him I decided that I wanted to be a hospital pharmacist. Read more Life as a consultant cancer pharmacist

Putting Medicines Safety First in Wales

26.06.14 Royal Pharmaceutical SocietyRob Davies, member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Welsh Pharmacy Board reflects on the 2015 Medicines Safety Conference and the benefits of attending this year’s forthcoming event.

As a pharmacist and independent prescriber, medicines safety is an issue close to my heart. It is our pre-occupation as a profession, ensuring medicines are appropriate for the patient, are taken safely and as intended. I was excited therefore to attend the RPS Wales annual Medicines Safety Conference last year to hear about strategic plans for Wales and to learn more from practice examples. Read more Putting Medicines Safety First in Wales