Highlights from the 6th Annual Welsh Medicines Safety Conference

Earlier this month RPS Wales held its annual Medicines Safety Conference, the leading multi-professional event addressing medicines safety issues as part of integrated approaches to improving health in Wales. With a theme of ‘shifting care – breaking the cycle’, this year’s conference explored the challenges and opportunities for managing medicines safely and effectively as care is increasingly delivered closer to people’s homes while reducing avoidable admissions and re-admissions to hospital.

A full capacity of over 200 delegates made up of pharmacists, other health professionals, NHS managers and third sector organisations from Wales and across Great Britain were in attendance to hear from a range of informative and high profile speakers. A particular highlight was a video message from Professor Don Berwick, former President Emeritus and Senior Fellow at Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Professor Berwick spoke fondly of his year’s engagement with healthcare in Wales and shared his thoughts on how substantive change and improvement can occur within health systems. His message was followed by a presentation from Professor Chirs Ham, Chief Executive of the King’s Fund, who outlined the strategic imperative for care to be delivered outside hospitals in community settings.

The conference was also attended by the Welsh Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport, Vaughan Gething AM, as well as the Chief Medical Officer for Wales. Mr Gething used his address to emphasise community pharmacy’s “fundamental role in primary care” and reaffirmed the Welsh Government’s commitment to continue with the current funding arrangements. He did note that he expects the sector to adapt and to provide more quality clinical services and that the safety of care by community pharmacists will be improved through access to patient records that will occur with a roll out of the Choose Pharmacy IT platform.

During his address Mr Gething also praised the Royal Pharmaceutical Society for “stepping up to the challenge of long term conditions”, when discussing a new policy on ‘Improving Care for Patients with Long Term Conditions’ from RPS Wales that was launched at the conference. Focusing on the essential role of the pharmacist as part of a multidisciplinary approach, the policy tackles the challenges facing the NHS in preventing, identifying, treating and supporting patients with long term conditions. It is based on the society’s vision for pharmaceutical care of long term conditions but is tailored to the different governmental and strategic priorities in Wales. Policies for England and Scotland will be launched later this year.

Catch up on the full conference highlights via the storify on the event