Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Beyond the Pandemic: Pharmacy’s Future

by Sandra Gidley, RPS President

I am a firm believer in learning from our experiences, whether they are good or bad. This is after all, how we grow and progress.

Learning from the COVID-19 experience and how it has impacted upon the pharmacy profession is now one of our most important learning points.

I have been immensely proud to be part of a profession that has adapted, innovated and coped so well with the demands of the pandemic. While testing the personal and professional resilience of the profession across all sectors, a number of positives have emerged. These include flexibilities in opening hours to allow more time for dealing with complex queries and the emergence of virtual consultations to increase patient access to a pharmacist.   

I strongly believe it is not an option to lose any of the advances made during the pandemic. We need to be clear on the changes we need to keep and on which issues to push the UK and devolved governments to further advance the pharmacy profession.  We must now seize all opportunities to shape the future of pharmacy.

I am pleased to say that I am not alone in this view. After recent and extensive engagement with our members, the wider profession, pharmacy organisations and patient groups, there is an appetite for using our learnings from the pandemic as a springboard for growth and development of pharmacy practise across Great Britain.

Our future of pharmacy policy is the result of our learning to date. With strong principles, we have set out our stall for pharmacy and shaped our advocacy work for the future.

I would encourage you to read this important document as it will be our True North, our key reference point, in ongoing collaborative work with governments, the NHS, and other key stakeholders. Highlights for me include:

  • Empowering pharmacists to transform patient care through greater opportunities for independent prescribing and legislative change to allow for greater professional responsibility in managing medicines supply.
  • Advancing the digital integration and connectivity of the pharmacy workforce, including read and write access for pharmacists to electronic patient records and the availability of the tools for virtual consultations.
  • Ensuring full integration of the pharmacy profession into the NHS with routine access to NHS provided mental health and wellbeing support and protected time for professional development on par with other health professions. 

Our view of the future also includes greater equality of opportunity across the profession and every sector. This builds on our recently published Inclusion and Diversity Strategy, aiming to embed diversity in the profession at all levels. 

There’s a lot of work to do now and we are committed to playing our part through building strong coalitions to turn our principles into reality. We can all play a role in this, and where you can add value to this work, I would encourage you to get involved – we will keep our members fully informed of the steps we are taking. Together, I am confident we can shape and advance pharmacy practise. Together, I know we can improve patient care and help safeguard the future sustainability of the NHS.

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