Enabling an integrated and connected pharmacy workforce:
- Ensure that IT systems across health and social care are interoperable with one another
IT systems must be interoperable to improve information sharing across all care settings and support patient care by ensuring that up to date information is available at all stages in the patient journey. These systems must also facilitate pharmacy referral to and from other healthcare professionals and services. As people are empowered to have control over their own records this would make it easier for information to be shared with all healthcare professionals providing care services.
- Enable read and write access to a full and integrated electronic patient record for pharmacists in all care settings
Pharmacists have been able to access more patient information during COVID-19 to support and improve patient care and the capacity of other healthcare colleagues. While access to patient health records, laboratory results and the care record, is available to pharmacists working in hospitals and primary care, it is not routine for community pharmacists.
Access would enable pharmacists to:
- Give patients better advice with no delays
- Make more informed clinical decisions
- Improve pharmaceutical care
- Reduce the number of medicine related errors that contribute to unplanned hospital admissions.
A YouGov public survey showed 85% of respondents want healthcare professionals treating them to have secure electronic access to key data from the GP record.
Empowering the pharmacy profession to transform patient care:
- Involve pharmacists and their teams in identifying and delivering solutions for reducing health inequalities
The concept of the Inverse Care Law proposed thirty years ago by Julian Tudor Hart, describes a perverse relationship between the need for health care and its actual utilisation. The network of community pharmacies helps to buck the trend of the inverse care law as there are a greater number of pharmacies in socio-economically deprived areas. This ensures that the people across Scotland have access to healthcare and advice within their localities wherever they live.
Local pharmacy teams can act as champions and play an active role in breaking down barriers, by engaging with their communities and providing vital services including social prescribing, tackling obesity and improving health literacy, amongst others. There is an opportunity to build on existing examples where pharmacists provide outreach services into the communities they serve. This local leadership and community asset should be utilised and built upon to help reduce health inequalities.
- Promote and enhance the role of pharmacy teams in primary care vaccination and immunisation services
There is huge potential for community pharmacy teams to be further developed as healthcare providers and public health hubs. Community pharmacists already provide NHS flu vaccinations in England and Wales. This should be extended to Scotland to increase uptake throughout the population.
The current flu vaccination programme could then be further resourced to provide access to other vaccines, such as childhood immunisation and travel vaccinations, safely and efficiently using trained pharmacists and pharmacy teams.
Establishing a valued and supported profession:
- Ensure time for learning and development is available for all pharmacists across all sectors to support workforce development and ensure pharmacists can deliver services safely
During COVID-19, pharmacies have benefited from increased flexibility in opening hours. This protected time during the working day with limited interruptions has enabled pharmacists to deal with complex queries and prioritise workloads; this should continue.
Pharmacists do not routinely receive protected time to learn new skills and update their knowledge as part of a multidisciplinary team. Pharmacy workforce planning rarely considers the time and cost of education and training, and any training and teaching that is undertaken puts a strain on other colleagues, adding to work pressures. We would like to see protected and funded learning and development time within the working day for pharmacists embedded within workforce planning.
As managing the health of patients becomes more complex due to the increasing prevalence of multiple long-term conditions and the development of new innovative medicines, the need for pharmacy expertise will only increase. The public must be assured that pharmacists can provide increasingly complex services safely, which will require pharmacy teams to continually build on their competence and constantly develop and advance their practice.
- Ensure that all pharmacy teams providing NHS services, including in the community pharmacy setting, are recognised and valued as key workers
Community pharmacists and their teams provide expertise in all aspects of medicines, health advice and prevention, tackling health inequalities, supporting long term conditions and treating self-limiting common clinical conditions. They are contracted to provide services in local communities on behalf of the NHS and remained open throughout the pandemic despite the risks involved. In our consultations with members and engagement events with pharmacists, colleagues told us that greater recognition as an essential part of the patient journey is very much needed.
Community pharmacy teams are NHS service providers and must be recognised as such. They should have access to support and benefits, including mental health and wellbeing support, in the same way as other primary care providers contracted to deliver NHS services.
A sustainable future for pharmacy:
- Promote and invest in the pharmacy profession as an attractive career choice
Pharmacy is the third largest healthcare profession. There are many opportunities for pharmacists to support our health service and deliver improvements to health for Scotland’s citizens. However, it is vital that young people are encouraged to consider pharmacy as a career option and support to promote the profession is much needed. For example, including pharmacy at NHS Careers Fairs would help raise awareness of the opportunities that exist.
- Fully fund and resource pharmacy to provide 7-day clinical services to meet the needs of patients and support the multidisciplinary team in hospitals
Seven-day clinical pharmacy services in hospital:
- Enhance patient experience by giving patients the opportunity to discuss medication related aspects of their care and supporting progress through their care pathways
- Reduce variation in the quality of care by embedding the principles of pharmaceutical care into routine practice every day of the week
- Improve clinical efficiency and patient safety through increased deployment of clinical pharmacy staff to focus on optimal and safe use of medicines and delivering 7-day health and care services
However, it is a challenge to develop seven-day services to meet the 24/7 need in hospital, without significant funding and resource to redesign the service.