Pharmacists’ role central in blueprint for out of hours care in Scotland

Sir Lewis Ritchie, Chair of the Independent Primary Care Out of Hours Review, has today published his recommendations to the Scottish Government.

The review's main recommendations focus on the need for multi-disciplinary teams – including GPs, nurses, physiotherapists, community pharmacists, social care and other specialists – working together at urgent care resource hubs across Scotland.

His recommendations have been welcomed by the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, Shona Robison MSP, who said: “Our NHS is facing different demands from those of a decade ago and we need to ensure all parts of the system work as effectively as possible to support an ageing population and more people with more complex, multiple conditions.

“Over the course of the Review, Sir Lewis has consulted widely with professionals and patients in every single health board area across Scotland. This reflects our open approach, and willingness to listen.

“We are already taking a comprehensive range of actions across all areas of our health service in order to meet the changing demands and the recommendations in Sir Lewis’ Review will build on this, helping ensure a more effective and sustainable service for the future.
“Through our £60 million primary care fund we are making long term changes to support the development of the whole primary care team. This will allow us to recruit and retain more GPs, as well as employ more professionals like pharmacists, to work alongside GPs and allow patients to be always be seen by the person best able to address their needs.
“There is still a lot of work to be done, but ultimately, by getting primary care right, both in and out of hours, we can ease the pressure in our hospitals and meet the demands of our patients, who should expect nothing less.”
Chair of the Scottish Pharmacy Board, Dr John McAnaw, welcomed the report and its recommendations and said: "I was delighted to read the report and see community pharmacy being clearly visible within the new model of out of hours (OOH) care. There are key recommendations that support pharmacists having a greater role and profile in the delivery of unscheduled care which is very positive, and the RPS is committed to help develop and support the expansion of the pharmacist's role in OOH care in the months and years ahead. We are also delighted to see that pharmacists will at last be 'plugged in' to the electronic patient record, and eventually be able to electronically share and receive information from other health care providers. This will be a key enabler for pharmacy into the future, and ultimately benefit patients and improve patient safety.  There is much to be done, and we will work together with our partners to deliver on the recommendations made in the report."
The RPS in Scotland worked proactively with Community Pharmacy Scotland and the Directors of Pharmacy group to provide a joint submission outlining the profession’s recommendations for pharmacy’s contribution to out of hours care.
The Scottish Government news release and link to the full report can be found here.