by Elen Jones, Practice and Policy Lead at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Wales.
We’ve had a busy year working with colleagues in NHS Wales and Welsh Government to put pharmacy at the heart of future healthcare planning in Wales, as well as working on policies to improve patient outcomes.
Building alliances across the multidisciplinary team
As part of RPS Wales’ programme of ongoing engagement with key decision makers in Wales, we joined forces with representatives from other health professions throughout the year and met with influential colleagues from across the world of health care, notably Dr Frank Atherton, Chief Medical Officer for Wales, and Ruth Hussey, Chair of the Parliamentary Review of Health and Social Care in Wales. Meetings looked at the case for change and discussed issues including workforce, recruitment and professional leadership. Positive discussions were had about the role pharmacists and other members of the multidisciplinary team can play in delivering improvements in primary and community care services, and how pharmacists skills can contribute to the preventative public health agenda. We also discussed ideas for harnessing the strengths of the pharmacy team, transforming care and developing new models and pathways to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of NHS services provided to our patients.
Championing the roles of pharmacists in Wales
Throughout 2017 we continued to work with the National Assembly for Wales and NHS Wales on your behalf. By responding to consultations, providing written evidence to Assembly inquiries and appearing in front of Assembly Committees we made sure that the voice of the profession was heard.
In May, RPS representatives Mair Davies and Suzanne Scott-Thomas were invited to the Senedd to discuss the benefits of multidisciplinary working. A collaboration between a Powys-based GP practice and community pharmacy led to a 21% decrease in GP consultations for common ailments over a six-month period, according to evidence given by RPS Wales to the Welsh Assembly’s Health, Social Care and Sport Committee. The case study was presented during a session convened to learn more about how effectively primary care clusters – networks of GPs working with other healthcare professionals, including pharmacists — are working in Wales. You can read the full story of the evidence session here.
RPS returned to the Senedd in October with the message that Pharmacists should be “guardians of the appropriate use of antipsychotics in care home settings”. Mair Davies, this time accompanied by Wendy Davis, mental health clinical board pharmacist at Llandough Hospital, were presenting evidence at the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee’s inquiry into the use of antipsychotic medicines in care homes. The inquiry was instigated by the committee in response to calls from the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales and the RPS Wales policy, Improving Medicines Use for Care Home Residents. Get all the details of RPS’ contribution to the inquiry here.
Creating the environment for the profession to excel is at the heart of our advocacy work. We continued to meet with Assembly Members from all political parties during 2017 and outlined the benefits of greater integration of the pharmacy team in models of NHS care. As result we have seen our policy vision for pharmacy in Wales gaining more traction with AMs and the Welsh Government. We were particularly thrilled that as a result of years of campaigning, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Vaughan Gething, used our 7th Medicines Safety Conference as a platform to announce plans for 2018 to allow community pharmacists access to GP patient records.
What we’ll be working on next year
We believe that the momentum we have created during 2017 and in previous years has created the most important window of opportunity that the pharmacy profession in Wales has ever had. We’ll keep advocating for the profession in earnest in 2018 as we work closely with the Welsh Pharmaceutical Committee to shape the future direction for pharmacy in Wales, particularly working with key partners to shape the future of the pharmacy team in palliative and end of life care. We’ll also be looking at ways to make sure the health and wellbeing of pharmacists is prioritised throughout the year, and looking for ways to address workplace pressures in every pharmacy workplace.
Working with our members to make sure their voice is heard at the highest decision making levels is vitally important to us and we welcome opportunities to work closely with our members to help shape our influencing and policy work. If you would like to get involved in 2018, just drop me an email at Elen.Jones@rpharms.com or call me on 02920 730 310.