Putting Medicines Safety First in Wales

26.06.14 Royal Pharmaceutical SocietyRob Davies, member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Welsh Pharmacy Board reflects on the 2015 Medicines Safety Conference and the benefits of attending this year’s forthcoming event.

As a pharmacist and independent prescriber, medicines safety is an issue close to my heart. It is our pre-occupation as a profession, ensuring medicines are appropriate for the patient, are taken safely and as intended. I was excited therefore to attend the RPS Wales annual Medicines Safety Conference last year to hear about strategic plans for Wales and to learn more from practice examples.

As a first time attender at this annual event, I was very impressed by the calibre of speakers and critical issues that were being addressed. Not only was the content of the conference incredibly apt and relevant to my interests as a pharmacist but the opportunities to network with colleagues and friends from across Wales and further afield were most welcomed. It became very apparent to me why this conference was regarded as the flagship event of RPS Wales.

Last year’s event focused on medicines safety and the importance of multidisciplinary working. Chaired by Chris Martin, member of the Bevan Commission and former Chair of Hywel Dda University Health Board, the conference was opened by setting in context the importance of greater integration of the pharmacy profession in models of care in Wales. Chris stated with pride and passion that “my profession, the pharmacy profession, has never been better placed to play its part in multi-disciplinary teams to improve the patient experience and to improve patient safety’. This really set the scene for the day and I couldn’t have agreed more. I continue to see from personal experience how much more we can deliver to our patients by working closely with our health and social care colleagues.

It was interesting to hear the keynote speaker for the morning, Vaughan Gething AM, who was the then Deputy Minister for Health. Mr Gething emphasised the principles of Prudent Healthcare and highlighted the impact that pharmacists can have in making co-production a reality through treating patients as equal partners and empowering them to make informed choices about their care.

It is always particularly pleasing when friends/colleagues are recognised for their good work. For me this occurred when the Deputy Minister recalled his recent visit to Wrexham Maelor Hospital and congratulated Medicines Safety pharmacist Janet Thomas on her work in recognising, recording and reporting adverse incidents related to medicines.  He emphasised that the Welsh Government recognises pharmacists’ pivotal role in the safe and effective use of medicines, noting that appropriate tools are needed to facilitate this.

The conference gave me an opportunity to hear from many eminent speakers including Dr Aiden Fowler, Director of NHS Quality Improvement and Patient Safety/Director of 1,000 lives Improvement Service and Dr Bruce Warner, Deputy Chief Pharmacist for NHS England. Dr Fowler was keen to highlight how pharmacy can be involved in leading the medicines safety agenda, including the reduction of drug errors, improving labelling safety, and prescribing rounds. He also emphasised the importance of the pharmacist’s role in antimicrobial review in hospital, maintaining the reduction of mortality from sepsis, continuing to address inappropriate antibiotic use, and encouraging the safer use of warfarin. Dr Warner built upon these messages and outlined the importance of Medicines Optimisaiton in helping patients improve their outcomes including better monitoring and increased access to an evidence based choice of medicine.

It was also pleasure to hear Professor June Andrews, co-author of the Trusted to Care report which focused on the care of the frail and elderly in our Welsh hospitals and had been the subject of much discussion at the time right across the NHS in Wales. Professor challenged the conference to think about;

  • Does a pharmacists role end at delivery of the medicine to the ward?
  • Is it only the ward nurse’s role to ensure the medicine gets into the patient?
  • Where are the professional boundaries?
  • Should there be such boundaries where patient care is important?

These pertinent questions need to be addressed.

Another highlight was Trudi Hilton sharing her experience as a consultant pharmacist in international and humanitarian medicines supply chain.

The breakout sessions were stimulating with lots of useful discussion on the decriminalisation of dispensing errors, medicines safety in Primary Care Clusters, and multidisciplinary working to improve clinical outcomes for care home residents.

Reflecting on the conference as I returned home to North Wales, I felt assured that our profession is moving in the right direction, and our conference can serve as an inspiration to many. For continuing professional development, inspiring great speakers, networking opportunities and relevance to the practice of pharmacy – the RPS Wales Medicines Safety Conference is the place to be. I would encourage pharmacists to attend this year’s conference on Thursday November 3. I’ve heard it’s going to have a great line up of speakers to address the important issue of shifting care closer to home. I hope to see you there!

Book your place now for this year’s event.

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