Scottish Parliament debate champions pharmacists in community & primary care

A debate on ‘Redesigning primary care for Scotland’ took place in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday. Tabled by Shona Robison, Cabinet Secretary for health and wellbeing, the debate looked at Lewis Ritchie’s recently published Out of Hours review and healthcare in the community.
RPS in Scotland provided both evidence to the Out of Hours Review and a briefing ahead of the debate. The latter emphasised the essential role pharmacy plays in the multidisciplinary primary care team and called for the further development of local working that embraces and utilises the skills and clinical expertise of pharmacists.
Throughout the debate pharmacists’ contribution to primary care was continually recognised. Shona Robison, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing said: “Let us not forget the important role that pharmacists play as clinicians in their own right and as a crucial part of multidisciplinary working. Up to March 2018, more than £16 million will be invested from the primary care fund to recruit up to 140 additional whole-time equivalent pharmacist independent prescribers, who will free up GP time to spend with other patients.”
Richard Simpson MSP drew attention to pharmacists in GP practices and the lack of strategical clarity around pharmacists’ role in the multidisciplinary primary care team. He noted: “The Government’s announcement of £60 million to fund the testing of new models of general practice is welcome. The 140 pharmacists are also welcome, although I would like to know how GPs will apply for them. GPs are phoning me and saying, “We would like one of those. How do we get one?” and I am finding it difficult to respond, so some detail as to exactly how the pharmacists will be put in place would be welcome. I know that they are going into the 2C practices—those that have been taken over—and that tests the model, which is excellent.”
“We need support for specialist nurses, advanced practitioners, physician assistants, allied health professionals and pharmacists in dealing with issues such as diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, heart failure, end-off life care and polypharmacy. I ask the Government to publish the details of what it is doing in relation to the clusters so that we can fully discuss that and see how it is going.”
Jim Hume MSP said: “Nurses, GPs and pharmacists note that embracing and utilising the skills and clinical expertise of staff can provide innovation. Making the NHS a good place to work in and be treated in takes not only considerable financial investment— where such investment is necessary—but smart and practical guidance.”
RPS in Scotland’s Practice and Policy Lead, Aileen Bryson MRPharmS, stated: “Tuesday’s debate shows that our recommendations are being taken on board by MSPs and we are happy to see pharmacists recognised as an essential part of the multidisciplinary primary care team. However, we agree with Richard Simpson MSP that Scottish Government needs to clarify the logistics of how pharmacists will integrate into the primary care hubs. The pharmacy team across community, hospital and GP practices must have input to ensure that their skills are fully utilised to improve the health of people in Scotland.”

You can find out more about RPS in Scotland's public affairs work on the Talking to Government web pages or by following @RPSScotland on Twitter. RPS members can also join the Your Voice in Government network.