Pharmacies can help in the battle to beat Hepatitis C

By Dr Suman Verma, co-chair of the London Joint Working Group of Substance Use and Hepatitis C and Hepatology Consultant at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital

This month the London Joint Working Group on Substance Use and Hepatitis C published results of an innovative pilot project that offered point-of-contact hepatitis C testing to people who use needle exchange services in 8 community pharmacies across London. More than half of those tested (53%) had hepatitis C antibodies and were referred directly into specialist services via newly created referral pathways for further tests and for potentially life-saving treatment. Of those engaging with specialist services, 78% had detectable hepatitis C virus particles in their blood and 33% had advanced liver disease with cirrhosis.

Whilst the scale of this pilot is small, its implications are huge. Hepatitis C is a serious public health issue in London.  Public Health England estimate there are more than 40,000 people living with the virus and around half of these people are undiagnosed. Read more Pharmacies can help in the battle to beat Hepatitis C

Prescribing a revolution

by Robbie Turner, RPS Director for England

During my career as a pharmacist, who is able to prescribe has changed beyond recognition.

From nurses through to pharmacists and allied healthcare professionals, more and more of us are studying for a prescribing qualification. It’s driving a revolution in healthcare and increasing access for patients.

The NHS needs solutions to the pressures it faces and maximising the skill mix of the existing workforce as part of the push for more integrated care is giving the profession significant opportunities. Read more Prescribing a revolution

Winter Wellness

Jodie Williamson MRPharmS, Pharmacist at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society
Jodie Williamson MRPharmS

by Jodie Williamson, Pharmacist and Professional Development and Engagement Lead at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Wales.

We often hear about the pressures facing the NHS during the winter months but did you know that there are steps that we can all take to stay well this Winter that can help to relieve this pressure?

Read more Winter Wellness

Why is handwashing important?

By Professor Ash Soni, President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Every day we carry millions of bacteria, some of which are naturally found on our bodies and some of which are germs that can make us ill or infect others.

Every day we have contact with people who don’t always wash their hands after going to the toilet, or preparing food.

Our survey on handwashing shows 84% of British adults don’t wash their hands for long enough to clean them of bacteria which can cause infections such as upset stomachs or pneumonia, or viruses which can cause colds and flu.

Regular handwashing with soap and water is the single best way to protect yourself and others from infections. The recommended time to spend washing your hands is 20 seconds, as long as it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday to you’ twice. Read more Why is handwashing important?

What do pharmacists need to know about heartburn?

By Dr Pulak Sahay, Consultant Gastroenterologist and Senior Lecturer of Medicine, Leeds University

What is reflux?

It is estimated that there are over 10 million adults in the UK who suffer from heartburn (sometimes known as reflux disease or Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD)).  If left untreated or poorly controlled, this can cause considerable discomfort and lead to a poor quality of life. In extreme situations, untreated heartburn can cause a host of both gastrointestinal (GI) and non-GI complications, including severe complications such as Oesophageal Adenocarcinoma (OA) – known as Oesophageal Cancer. Read more What do pharmacists need to know about heartburn?

Pride 2017

By Robbie Turner, RPS Director for England

This weekend sees the Pride in London parade taking to the streets of the city with over 300 groups marching to fight for equality of the LGBTQ community.

Having watched the parade many times before I know that it is often seen as a celebration of what the LGBTQ community have achieved over the last five decades since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK. I certainly recognise this progress and as a gay man have always felt proud to be a member of a LGBTQ community which is in the main, welcoming, diverse and accepting of others.

But not every LGBTQ person has the positive experience I do and this can have a significant impact on their health. Research by METRO charity shows that 52% of young LGBT people reported self-harm either recently or in the past, compared to 25% of heterosexual non-trans young people. Also, 44% of young LGBT people have considered suicide compared to 26% of heterosexual non-trans people.

To say that 25 years after I came out, young people are still suffering high levels of abuse, discrimination and mental health issues is hugely upsetting. As a pharmacist, I know that there are always competing priorities on our time and resources. But, over this Pride in London weekend, I will be reflecting on what more I can do to help young LGBTQ people and how the Royal Pharmaceutical Society can support pharmacists to do the same.

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.

How pharmacists can identify and support people with depression

Jonathan Burton

Today is World Health Day, which marks the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization. The theme of this year’s day is depression. We want to use this as an opportunity to highlight the important role that pharmacists can play in identifying and supporting people with depression. Today’s article has been written by community pharmacist Jonathan Burton and gives an insight into the ways a pharmacist can help tackle the stigma of depression.

By Jonathan Burton

I work in a community pharmacy which serves a large university student population. Depressive illness is one of the most common conditions I see in my day to day practice and there is much I can do as a pharmacist to help this young adult patient group. Read more How pharmacists can identify and support people with depression

Top tips from a practice pharmacist on working with community colleagues

Yaksheeta Dave Photo 2by Yaksheeta Dave, GP practice pharmacist, London.

About me
I registered as a pharmacist in 2003 and my background has been a mixture of community pharmacy, hospital pharmacy and primary care. I started working as GP practice pharmacist prior to the NHS England pilot although the GP practice that I work in is currently part of the pilot.

I am the point of contact for local community pharmacies regarding any patient related or general queries that they may have. We have an on-site community pharmacy as well as approximately five community pharmacies locally that the majority of our patients use for pharmacy services.

My top 5 tips for a new GP pharmacist to make sure they get off to a great start with local community pharmacists: Read more Top tips from a practice pharmacist on working with community colleagues

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