Developing a research strategy for Wales

Sarah Hiom 150x150
Dr Sarah Hiom, MPharmS, PhD, All Wales Specialist Pharmacist, R & D, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board

A core message coming from our professional leaders is that ‘research is everybody’s business.’ A Research and Evaluation cluster is now included in the Advanced Pharmacy Framework of the RPS Faculty. Increasingly, the commissioning of NHS services is being based on patient outcomes so the need to provide evidence to support our current or future services is essential.

We need a “research ready” pharmacy workforce who can practice in an environment that nourishes and supports research. However, many practitioners feel that research is for the ‘academics’ and they lack the skills and confidence to approach this subject. Pharmacy practitioners are, however, ideally situated to understand the day to day issues facing heathcare, the use of medicines and the complex background within which the NHS operates.

Building research capacity and capability within a workforce, however, takes time, and requires strong partnerships with stakeholders and shared goals. Health Education England (HEE) realised the need to develop this workforce for nurses, midwives and allied healthcare professionals. They recognized the advantage of developing flexible career pathways (so that research and clinical skills could be developed side by side without the need to pursue one at the expense of the other) and the advantages of integrated and multi-professional working. This culminated in the development of the Integrated Clinical Academic training Scheme (ICAS) which is now also open to Pharmacists.

Key stakeholders within the Welsh pharmacy profession also recognized the need to collectively engage with this agenda and in May 2014 pharmacists from all sectors and various partnership bodies came together at an engagement event to discuss the challenges associated with service research and to consider a way forward for Wales. It was agreed that a Welsh Research Strategy would be developed to establish this vision and the associated long term goals. A steering committee was convened and a draft strategy developed using the outputs from the engagement event and follow up meetings with stakeholder groups. One of the recommendations is that pharmacists in Wales should be able to apply to a Welsh training scheme for Building Research Capacity for nurses and AHP’s (for more information please visit RCBC Wales). This document will be circulated for consultation in early 2015.

In September 2014 the North Wales Research Symposium and South Wales Research and Evaluation Evening brought together pharmacists from all sectors of the profession to showcase local examples of research. Events like these are a great opportunity to collaborate with others involved in research and will help grow the research community in Wales.

Please forward your details to sarah.hiom@wales.nhs.uk if you would like to contribute to the consultation process.

Visit The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Research and Evaluation Network and the Science and Research area of the RPS website for more information and support on research and the pharmacy profession.