Following on from the successes of previous years, the 5th Annual Wales Medicines Safety Conference was quite the event drawing in delegates from a diverse range of health professions, including the professional bodies for nursing, physiotherapy, general practitioners and pharmacists.
The event, run by RPS Wales in conjunction with 1,000 Lives Improvement (1,000 o Fywydau), sought to draw attention to the work implemented by numerous organisations and individuals to improve medicines safety, whilst also outlining areas for innovation in the delivery of high quality healthcare.
The conference opened with an address by Vaughan Gething AM, the Deputy Minister for Health in the Welsh Government. In a stand-out statement he announced his full support for pharmacists gaining read and write access to the patient record, an issue on which the RPS has been campaigning for some time and one of the key messages in the recently published RPS Policy Vision for Wales.
The morning’s talks continued with a speech from Aidan Fowler, director of 1,000 Lives Improvement. Adrian spoke passionately about how his experience as colorectal surgeon during the C.Diff crisis led to insights into the shortcomings of the healthcare system; this then drove him become an advocate for change from within the NHS. He discussed at length the issues of antibiotic prescribing, medicines safety, and patient compliance calling for greater inter-professional co-operation in dealing with these challenges, stating that “the most expensive drugs are those which are not taken”.
Following this, Professor June Andrews from the University of Stirling spoke of her unique experience of being a specialist in dementia, whilst nursing her mother who was afflicted with the disease. June gave many recommendations as to how the care of those suffering from the disorder could be improved through better communication between healthcare professionals and patients families.
The sessions continued in the afternoon with Trudi Hilton, a humanitarian aid pharmacist experienced in managing pharmaceutical supply chains in challenging settings. Trudi gave an inspiring address about her work in India to isolate the cause of hundreds of medicines related deaths, and emphasised the need for pharmacists to exercise vigilance in combatting counterfeit and sub-standard medicines, which exist across the developing world and occasionally infiltrate European markets.
The conference saw numerous other memorable speakers, including Dr Bruce Warner the Deputy Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, Suzanne Scott-Thomas Chair of the RPS Welsh Pharmacy Board, and Mair Davies RPS Director for Wales amongst many others. President of the RPS, Ash Soni, closed the afternoon’s talks by expressing his ambition for the UK to become the safest place for patients to take medicines in the world.
The conference ended with Bethan Tranter, Chair of the Welsh Pharmaceutical Committee, who advises the Welsh Government on pharmacy, issuing a statement declaring full support and endorsement of the RPS policy vision for Wales: Steps to Better Health and Wellbeing. Bethan continued, stating that the Welsh Pharmaceutical Committee looks forward to collaborating with the RPS in delivering this project.
It’s clear from the enthusiasm of the speakers and attendees that medicines safety is taken very seriously in Wales. Through collaboration with such dedicated organisations and individuals the standard of Welsh pharmaceutical care looks set to continue its upward trajectory.