Expanding pharmacist prescribing practice

By Reem El-Sharkawi, Pharmacist, Welsh Clinical Leadership Fellow, Welsh Government

I've always been passionate about pharmacy and how much we can contribute to patient care. I strongly believe that the increase in pharmacist prescribers offers patients improved access to care. There are now opportunities, across various sectors, to expand or change your prescribing scope of practice so even more patients can see the right healthcare professional, at the right time.

Pharmacist independent prescribing was introduced in 2006, and there are now 11,698 prescribers on the register, which is just under 20% of pharmacists registered with the GPhC. However, the General Pharmaceutical Council report, that one in five pharmacist independent prescribers do not actively prescribe.

Challenges to prescribing

It’s been identified that one of the key contributors to not prescribing despite being qualified are the challenges faced by pharmacists looking to change or expand their initial scope of practice. A lack of guidance could lead to prescribers being unsure of how to go about it, losing confidence and ultimately not prescribing.

Finding solutions

As part of my role as the Welsh Clinical Leadership Fellow in Wales, I am thrilled to be working on a solution to help. I’ll be leading a project funded by Andrew Evans, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer of Wales, and supported by RPS, to develop support for prescribers from all professions across Great Britain to expand their prescribing scope of practice. There are exciting changes for Pharmacy in Wales, for example; in the community sector, pharmacists will be prescribing for multiple conditions, so being able to expand their prescribing  scope of practice will be essential in continuing to offer the best possible care for their patients.

The RPS Competency Framework for all Prescribers has been a great support to my practice over the years. I found it extremely helpful when I competed the prescribing course, and subsequently used it regularly to support and prioritise my clinical development. I’m looking forward to collaborating with a multi-disciplinary group of representatives from professional regulators, professional organisations, prescribers from all professions, lay representatives and other interested stakeholder groups from across Great Britain to produce this guidance. 

The future

It is clear to me that pharmacist independent prescribing is becoming more and more important in future pharmacy practice. This guidance will sit alongside the RPS competency framework to support prescribers wanting to expand their prescribing scope of practice across all sectors and professions. It excites me that the guidance that we create will sit alongside this framework to support prescribers!

I am aiming to publish the guidance by August 2022, so keep an eye on the practical guidance and support for prescriber from the RPS.

Reem El-Sharkawi will be speaking at event on prescribing within the multi-disciplinary team as part of our Independent Prescribing Showcase series Thursday, 2 December 2021 7.30pm – 8.30pm.


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