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Role of pharmacists to be reviewed


The role which pharmacists play in contributing to the healthcare of patients in the community is to be reviewed as a further step towards enhancing their involvement in primary healthcare.

The review of NHS Pharmaceutical Care of Patients in the Community will be carried out by Dr Hamish Wilson, a respected figure in primary and community healthcare, with support from Professor Nicholas Barber, a world leader in the field of pharmacy practice based at the School of Pharmacy, University of London.

It will aim to enhance the role of pharmacists and encourage closer working with GPs and other community based services. It will examine the arrangements for providing NHS pharmaceutical services, their fitness for purpose - including novel concepts such as the evaluation of group pharmacy practice and specialisation - and their long term sustainability.

It will take evidence on areas such as:

  • The provision of direct, personalised patient care such as services for the management of long term conditions including diabetes and asthma, and minor ailments to ensure patients get the best possible results from their treatment
  • The planning, designing and arrangements for the provision of NHS pharmaceutical care to ensure they are fit for purpose and target national priorities, as well as local need
  • How to make the best possible use of available resources, particularly in relation to the efficient and effective use of pharmacists' contribution to the safe and optimal use of medicines
  • The pharmaceutical care needs of residents in care homes and how best these should be met
  • The effective use of technology such as dispensing robots to give pharmacists more time to spend with patients and other healthcare professionals
  • The infrastructure needed to deliver pharmaceutical care fit for the 21 century
  • The education, training and continued professional development of pharmacists so that it remains relevant to providing modern NHS services
  • Integrated working between hospital and primary care pharmacists.

Cabinet Secretary for Health, Nicola Sturgeon said:

"Pharmacists play an increasingly important role in the direct care of patients. As pharmaceutical drugs grow in complexity it is essential that our pharmacists, who are experts in medicines, work in partnership with GPs and others to ensure that patients receive the best results from their treatment and that adverse effects are minimised.

"Pharmacists' work goes far beyond that of the supply of medicines and includes direct patient care such as medication reviews for those at risk of falls and prescribing clinics for patients with chronic pain. However, we believe that there is further scope to develop and enhance their role for the future, as well as the arrangements that underpin the planning, contracting and delivery of pharmacists' services to ensure their longer term sustainability and achieve the high quality healthcare to which we are committed.

"The review will provide the basis of that, enabling us to agree the future shape of the pharmaceutical care of patients in the community, improve joint working between GPs and pharmacists to enhance services to patients with chronic conditions and ensure that we make the best possible use of pharmacists' skills and expertise."

Dr Wilson said:

"It is a privilege to have been asked to lead this review. It is vitally important that effective pharmaceutical care is delivered to patients in the community, making the fullest use of the skills of pharmacists, working in partnership with GPs, other professionals and patients themselves. I look forward to engaging with all those who have an interest in this essential programme of work."

The review will take evidence from a wide range of stakeholders - including patient groups, the medical and pharmaceutical professions and their regulatory bodies, contractor representatives and those working in social care. The findings and recommendations are expected to be published in Autumn 2012 and will help shape the Scottish Government's programme for pharmaceutical care and medicines in Scotland during the next five years.

Dr Hamish Wilson is a highly respected figure in the sphere of primary and community healthcare, with extensive, senior experience at both national government and health board level. He has been a Board member of the Care Commission, is a member of the General Medical Council, the Scottish Dental Practice Board, and of the Scottish Advisory Board for Marie Curie. He is also a non-executive member and vice-chair of the Board of Healthcare Improvement Scotland.

Nicholas Barber is Professor of the Practice of Pharmacy at the University of London's School of Pharmacy's Centre for Medication Safety and Service Quality. He is a world leader in the field of academic pharmacy practice and has an international research reputation in the field addressing medication errors. He has also held senior pharmacy posts in the NHS as well as in academia.

Page updated: Tuesday, October 18, 2011