During a recent visit to the flagship Cardiff branch of Boots, Andrew RT Davies, Leader of the Welsh Conservatives and AM for South Wales Central heard first-hand about the developments taking place in community pharmacy to transform patient care and improve health.
The visit gave Mr Davies the opportunity to hear from pharmacists about how their unique skills in medicines are being more fully used to provide patient-facing clinical care as well as ensuring the safe dispensing of medicines.
Guided by Paul Harris, Boots pharmacists and Vice Chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Wales, Mr Davies was talked through the busy dispensing process and saw first-hand the advice that pharmacists can provide over-the-counter to patients. It was also explained to Mr Davies that in addition to dispensing medicines, a range of other clinical services are offered at pharmacy including winter flu jabs, travel and cervical cancer vaccinations. These services are widely available in community pharmacies throughout Wales.
Another relatively new innovation in recent years shown to Mr Davies were two private consultation rooms where patients can benefit from confidential advice on how to get the best from their medicines. Mr Davies was informed that these private consultations, known as Medicines Use Reviews, are available in almost all community pharmacies and can be help to iron out any problems and side effects with medicines.
Commenting on what he saw Mr Davies said, “I was taken aback by just how much work the pharmacists and their staff got through. The fact that people are able to conveniently access medicines and vaccines on the busiest shopping street in Cardiff is fantastic. I was also pleased to see that the clinical expertise of pharmacists is being used through medicines reviews. We all know that medicines can help us but they can also be dangerous and can cause harm if used incorrectly. It is reassuring to know that we can have a medicines review at our convenience to make sure that we are taking our medicines correctly and safely”.
Mr Davies was also taken to a part of the Boots store that the public don’t usually see, a care home dispensing hub behind the scenes of the hustle and bustle of the busy store. It was here that Mr Davies observed the complex process that ensures medicines are dispensed and distributed from the pharmacy to over a 100 care homes in the Cardiff area. It was explained to Mr Davies that during this process, each prescription goes through a process of a pharmacist checking that it is clinically appropriate before it is checked for accuracy by two qualified pharmacy technicians.
Paul Harris explained the importance of pharmacists having a role in ensuring care home residents take their medicines safely. He said “As we get older we are increasingly likely to be taking more medicines. This is especially true of vulnerable care home residents. It is vitally important that we have a rigorous process to ensure that resident receive their prescribed medicines promptly”. He continued “While dispensing the medicines is an important part of pharmacist’s role, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society believes there is greater scope for residents to benefit from a pharmacist’s expertise. We advocate that every care home resident should have at least one annual medicines review. Our first-hand experience demonstrates that when these reviews take place, pharmacists are often able to identify medicines that are impropriate and not needed, for instance medicines that have an adverse effect on the resident which could cause drowsiness and a fall. These reviews have the potential to greatly improve the quality of life of residents and to ease the burden on our health service.
Reflecting on the visit, Andrew RT Davies said “I was hugely impressed by the hard work and skills of the pharmacists I met today. It is clear that the pharmacy workforce makes a valuable contribution to the NHS and has the potential to offer even more. I will be working hard to make sure my colleagues and the Welsh Government recognise this.”