Professional Standards – committing to change and improvement

By Suzanne Scott-Thomas, Chair of RPS in Wales

Professional standards are central to improving practice, creating a more responsive service for our patients and increasing efficiencies.

Part two of this blog on the value of professional standards highlights another example of how using the RPS Hospital Pharmacy Standards has helped reshape a service, along with tips on creating change and improvement.

In my organisation we took a look at our patient discharge process realised it needed to change. The Hospital Standard: When care is transferred to another setting, patients are referred or signposted to appropriate follow-up or support, helped us improve the discharge process.

Outcomes included action being taken to implement ‘MTeD’, the electronic discharge advice letter system to electronically transfer information to GPs, as well as connect to the ‘Choose Pharmacy’ system in community pharmacies. This means that when patients are discharged, we can make certain that patients are appropriately receiving Discharge MURS. In this way, we’re handing over pharmaceutical care on discharge in a seamless way. MTeD is currently rolling out across all of the Health Boards in Wales, and we’re pleased to see the numbers of DMURs via the Choose Pharmacy system increasing.

Committing to change and improvement

As with anything in life, we get out what we put in. I would really recommend taking time to appreciate how you can get the best out of professional standards and how this can help you deliver and improve patient care. I would recommend you:

  • Engage – be a part of the process of developing the standards
  • Influence – what should the standards be? what would good look like in your organisation?
  • Own – we must think of them as our standards, not as being imposed on us by others
  • Understand – what do they mean for your service & your patients?
  • Use and apply them – in service re-design & service improvement, in business cases, in PDRs
  • Use them again – maintaining professional standards is a continuous process, with ever changing needs & expectations
  • Review – are the standards still fit for purpose, is there better practice out there, what might come next? Professional standards need to continue to stretch and challenge.

This all underpins continuous service improvement.

I would encourage all colleagues to commit to professional standards so we can deliver more for patients.

As a Chief Pharmacist in Wales, I have oversight and responsibility for pharmacy services provided in hospital, the community and primary care. Following the experience of putting the hospital standards into practice, I fully welcome the work the RPS is doing to create Professional Standards for Community Pharmacy. This gives us a great opportunity to reflect on the services we provide in the community, shape future services and deliver the high-quality care that patients deserve.

 Get involved

If you’d like to find out more, give your views, or get involved in the development of the important community pharmacy standards, have a look at the community pharmacy professional standards webpage.

Improving care with professional standards

by Suzanne Scott-Thomas, Chair of RPS in Wales

As pharmacists, we need to know that the services we provide are effective, safe, and efficient. This way we can make sure patients are getting the care they need and deserve. We also need to know that the services are continuing to meet the requirements of an ever-changing healthcare environment.

Meeting these challenges is part of our daily practice but it is no mean feat. So how do we continue to improve practice, increase efficiencies and create more responsive services for our patients?

In my experience, one answer is in creating and implementing professional standards.

Having professional standards provides us with a framework to test or assess our services against, which helps us to:

  • Know ourselves
  • Benchmark with others
  • Identify the gaps
  • Identify best practice
  • Identify how to deliver the best practice
  • Implement and then review

The Professional Standards framework will identify the way forward for you to improve your services.

Putting standards into practice

In my organisation, we use the RPS Professional Standards for Hospital Services collaboratively, but also individually, with all of us making a self-assessment against each of the standards. This process has allowed us to identify standards that we were not achieving or partially achieving and to implement improvement strategies to reshape services.

We successfully took action to meet the standard of: The views of patients and carers are actively sought to inform the development and delivery of pharmacy services enabling patients to have direct input into the services that they receive.

Implementing and responding to post discharge questionnaires we took action to:

  • Implement a standard uniform for all pharmacy staff in the managed sector in Wales– the green tunic with the pharmacy cross.
  • Issue pharmacy staff with name badges.
  • Developed and updated procedures and training to support medicines counselling by pharmacy staff.

We were really pleased to see that more patients were able to recognise pharmacy staff on the ward if they wanted to talk about their medicines. We continue to survey and respond to patient feedback on an annual basis to continue to improve.

Part two of this blog, to be published next Thursday, will combine another example of how the Standards helped us improve with handy recommendations to help you commit to change and improvement in your sector and practice.