RPS Wales welcomes Assembly Group findings on access to palliative care

Pharmacy role within palliative care MDT recognised

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Wales has welcomed recommendations of the National Assembly for Wales's Cross Party Group on Hospices and Palliative Care report into inequalities in access to hospice and palliative care.  


Over the last few months, RPS Wales has worked closely with the Cross Party Group’s Secretariat and Chair, Mark Isherwood AM, to ensure that pharmacy’s role within the palliative care multidisciplinary team is recognised. Overall, the report recommendations suggest ways that Welsh Government should 'work for greater equality of access to hospice and palliative care for all in Wales who could benefit'. A recent survey of pharmacists carried out by RPS Wales showed that 80% of respondents did not have sight of advanced care plans for their patients, and nearly two thirds of respondents are not even made aware that patients they care for are on the palliative care register. We were therefore particularly pleased to see a key recommendation aiming to ensure that, in addition to GPs, other professionals involved in patient care, specifically community pharmacists, are made aware when a person is included on the palliative care register.


Another key recommendation made in the report is for health boards to prioritise 'appropriately resourcing and promoting the 24/7 specialist advice line for adult palliative care, and directing out-of-hours clinicians – whether GPs, nurses or pharmacists – to this service to support adults with palliative care needs.' As the experts in safe and effective medicines use, RPS are confident that making full use of the expertise of the pharmacy workforce within the multi-disciplinary team will be vital to implement this recommendation. It's particularly pleasing that the report referenced RPS' contribution, particularly our view that 'formal out-of-hours pharmacy services (play a role) in improving access to medicines for people at the end of life', and our explanation of 'the clinical expertise a pharmacist can bring to the out-of-hours multi-disciplinary team.' 


Commenting on the Committee report publication, RPS Wales Interim Director, Elen Jones, who is leading RPS’ upcoming work on improving pharmaceutical palliative care in Wales, said: 

“We strongly welcome this report. It includes a number of clear recommendations that have the potential to make a real difference to palliative care patients and their families. We are particularly delighted that the report makes practical recommendations that will enable pharmacy to take a greater role in this area of care. Our next steps will be to build on the recommendations made in this report when we publish our upcoming policy exploring in detail the role that pharmacists should play in palliative and end of life care.” 


It's hoped that the Welsh Government will accept these recommendations that will undoubtedly help maximise the effectiveness of pharmaceutical care for patients with palliative care needs. To view the full report, including the recommendations and highlighted evidence from RPS members, click here