System leadership: how to get involved

By Amandeep Doll, RPS Regional Liaison Pharmacist

The NHS landscape is always changing and it can be difficult to know where to start for pharmacists who want to get involved in their local health and care systems.

You may have recently heard a lot about ‘systems’ in healthcare – but what are they really about? In short, they mean working collaboratively across health and social care boundaries to improve patient and public outcomes.

Current systems

The systems in England which plan, organise and deliver health and care services are called Integrated Care Systems (ICS), Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) and Primary Care Networks (PCNs). The NHS Long Term Plan will be delivered through these systems, which will work in collaboration with existing commissioning, secondary care providers and local authorities.

Pharmacists must be part of these structures at leadership level to ensure the future success of the profession at every level of practice. Our impact in systems is maximised when we integrate with the wider health and social care team.

Our challenge

The challenge for pharmacists is to deliver system-wide medicines optimisation, creating a collective sense of responsibility across different areas of pharmacy, organisations and individuals. This has the potential to dramatically improve population health.

To do this, pharmacists must be formally recognised by these systems and a framework established to support pharmacy integration and build a collaborative approach.

But where on earth do you start? If you’re keen to get involved, we can help you explore leadership opportunities within healthcare.

We can help

Our brand new online tool A systems approach to medicines optimisation and pharmacy will help you navigate the opportunities for pharmacy service development and medicines optimisation within local health and care systems.

It identifies six ways you can support effective system leadership and is packed full of practical advice to encourage collaborative working. It also provides checklists of the resources, standards and guidance needed to build knowledge and skills, along with case studies of how pharmacists have improved medicines optimisation and patient care.

A systems approach to medicines optimisation and pharmacy is part of our support for members working to improve medicines optimisation. I really hope that other pharmacists will contribute their experiences and share good practice in this rapidly changing environment. We need to see what works and what doesn’t so we can all learn to lead better.

Why not submit your own leadership case study?

Download our case study template and email it to england@rpharms.com

Related resource: Medicines Optimisation

Salbutamol – landmark asthma treatment

by John Betts, Keeper of the RPS Museum

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the landmark asthma treatment Salbutamol becoming commercially available in the UK. Salbutamol is still widely used today to relieve symptoms of asthma and COPD such as coughing, wheezing and feeling breathless. It works by relaxing the muscles of the airways into the lungs, making it easier to breathe.

Launched in 1969 with the brand name Ventolin, Salbutamol revolutionised the treatment of bronchial asthma.

It treated bronchospasm far more effectively compared with previous bronchodilators and had fewer side effects.

To understand how much of a breakthrough Salbutamol was in the treatment of asthma, it’s first worth comparing it to the drugs that were used to treat asthma before 1969.

One of the main drugs used for treating asthma in the mid-1960s was isoprenaline. This is a powerful bronchodilator and was used to relieve bronchospasm. However, the side effects include a sudden increased heart rate. Between 1963 and 1968 in the UK there was an increase in deaths among people using isoprenaline to treat asthma. This was attributed to overdose due to both excessive use of the aerosols and the high dosage they dispensed.

In the mid-1960s the mortality rate for asthma sufferers had risen to over 2,000 deaths a year. An effective bronchodilator was desperately needed that did not stimulate the heart or affect blood pressure.

Salbutamol was discovered in 1966 by a research team at Allen and Hanburys (a subsidiary of Glaxo). Salbutamol was the first drug that selectively targeted specific receptors in the lungs, inhibiting the production of proteins needed to produce muscle contractions. It works by relaxing the smooth muscle of the airways, opening them up and so lessening or preventing an asthma attack. Not only was Salbutamol a good bronchodilator, it lasted longer than isoprenaline, and inhalation caused fewer side effects.

In addition to the effectiveness of the drug, the method of administration itself was also revolutionary. The Ventolin inhaler was designed to ensure metered aerosol doses of Salbutamol were inhaled straight into the patient’s lungs.

The drug was an instant success.

The only real deficiency of Salbutamol was its short duration of action; at 4 hours it couldn’t prevent night-time asthma attacks. In response to this the pharmaceutical manufacturer Glaxo aimed to develop a longer acting drug. The result of their research was Salmeterol. Launched in 1990 with the brand name Serevent, it had a 12-hour duration of action.

50 years on Salbutamol is still on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines; a testament to the major role it continues to play in the treatment of asthma. 

Visit the RPS Museum Mon-Fri 9am-5pm

From community pharmacist to Medical Science Liaison

Sinead Monaghan, Medical Science Liaison, Sanofi

I graduated with a master’s degree in pharmacy from Queen’s University Belfast.I undertook my pre-registration year in a community pharmacy chain in Northern Ireland. I was employed as a pharmacist manager with the same company post pre-registration year. I spent a further four years as a community pharmacist.

I thoroughly enjoyed this role, especially being a pharmacist tutor. This very much sparked my interest in training others. I had always been curious about alternative pharmacist roles, but felt my knowledge of career paths was limited.

Read more From community pharmacist to Medical Science Liaison

How Sarah became a Medical Science Liaison

Dr. Sarah Anne Goffin, Medical Science Liaison at Sanofi

I come from a family of healthcare professionals and have always been passionate about science, so pharmacy seemed to be a perfect fit for me. 

I undertook my undergraduate at the University of East Anglia between 2006 and 2010 and completed my pre-registration year in 2011. As I worked part-time as a counter assistant in community during my degree I wanted to take the opportunity to increase my experience in hospital pharmacy. 

Read more How Sarah became a Medical Science Liaison

Women in early pharmacy

By Matthew Johnston, RPS Museum

“There is an impression that women are something new in pharmacy, but nothing could be further from the truth.”

These were Jean Kennedy Irvine’s words on her election as the first woman President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in 1947.

Medieval monasteries

In her speech, Jean also mentioned the early beginnings of community pharmacy in the medieval monasteries, where residents would grow medicinal plants to treat themselves and local people.

One of the oldest items on display in the RPS Museum is a stone mortar from a Spanish nunnery (AD 410-1500), used for preparing medicines. The Hanbury Collection of the RPS Library also contains a later copy of the ‘Physica’, a work by St Hildegard, Abbess of Bingen. Originally written in the 1100s, it outlines the medicinal properties of various drugs obtained from the natural world. Read more Women in early pharmacy

I am what I am! LGBT History Month

By Mike Beaman, FRPharmS, retired pharmacist

I am writing this blog in support of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s response to LGBT History Month.  Although not a gay activist I have, nevertheless, been generally open about my lifestyle since coming to terms with being a gay man back in the early 1970s.

I was born in 1947 so I was 19 and a university undergraduate when the legislation decriminalising homosexuality became law in 1967. I was already a young adult and therefore having an intimate relationship with another man before that time would have been a criminal act and would also have resulted in my being sent down from university and unable to eventually register as a pharmacist. Read more I am what I am! LGBT History Month

Primary care networks: getting started

by Stephanie West, RPS Regional Liaison Pharmacist

One of the things that excites me as a Regional Liaison Pharmacist for RPS is seeing examples of how local primary care professionals are coming together to discuss good patient care, provided by the right practitioner, close to home. So it was fantastic to see clear recognition of the key roles pharmacists play  Read more Primary care networks: getting started

Biosimilars: a great opportunity for pharmacists in England

by Jonathan Campbell, RPS Regional Liaison Pharmacist

Biosimilars have huge benefits for patients and the NHS and offer opportunities for pharmacists too.

The NHS Long Term Plan sets out how “the NHS will move to a new service model in which patients get more options, better support, and properly joined-up care at the right time in the optimal care setting”.

These new models of integrated care will need organisations and their staff to work together across the traditional boundaries of community, general practice and hospital – adopting a system leadership approach to improving population health that puts the patient at its heart. Read more Biosimilars: a great opportunity for pharmacists in England

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

Medical exemption fines: could they be better spent?

by RPS England Board Chair Sandra Gidley

The Government have announced plans to strengthen checks at pharmacies for entitlement to free prescriptions in England.  Whilst we all want to see fraud stopped, I have to ask – is really the right approach?

Only patients in England can be judged to have committed prescription fraud because prescriptions are free in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Many patients who fall foul of the medical exemption fine have simply forgotten to renew it. They only need to do this every five years, so it’s a diary date that is easy to miss. We shouldn’t label people with a serious long term condition who have forgotten to renew their medical exemption certificate as fraudsters because they have made a genuine mistake. Read more Medical exemption fines: could they be better spent?