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Focus on safety of medicines supply, McQuillan tells pharmacy lecture


Focus on safety of medicines supply, McQuillan tells pharmacy lecture

By Neil Trainis

The chief executive of Community Pharmacy Scotland Harry McQuillan gave University College London School of Pharmacy’s annual lecture last night and warned that although prescribing will open up exciting new opportunities within the profession in the near future, pharmacists’ focus must be on the safety not accuracy of medicines supply.

McQuillan (second from the left) told an audience of pharmacists, students, academics and healthcare stakeholders at the Royal Society that the future of pharmacy practice is in the community and pharmacists can be at the heart of clinical and technological advances that will keep people healthy at home thanks to prescribed, tailored medicines.

However, he said pharmacists need to move away from accuracy of supply to safety of supply and utilise their teams to make that change.  “If your activity during the day is based on accuracy, you should be passing that on so you can focus on safety,” he said.

McQuillan urged pharmacy professionals “to really challenge themselves about whether they are focused” on accuracy or safety of supply but was unequivocal. “For our community pharmacists, it must be about safety, including prescribing and ensuring patients and citizens get the maximum benefit from prescribed medicines.

“To deliver this we need to invest in our teams, harness technology and be willing to take the next step in a more clinical future.”

The event also heard from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s director for England James Davies who insisted community pharmacy was “undergoing a professional transformation” by moving from supply to the provision of “care through services.”

But he warned that for community pharmacists to use their skills to improve risk management, safety and drive local health promotion through independent prescribing, they must “step out of existing pharmacy structures and work across the pharmacy professions.”

That, he said, had “arguably been achieved faster in Scotland and Wales than in England.”

National Pharmacy Association chair Nick Kaye said it was time community pharmacists moved “forward with greater confidence into all areas of clinical practice involving medicines use.”

“The extent to which we are successful in delivering NHS prescribing services will be the deciding factor in the future of our sector across the UK,” he said, warning the “challenges there are very real, notably around workforce.”

He insisted community pharmacy in England should not “lag behind” Scotland and Wales and suggested England’s network could one day be “Scotland on steroids” and an example for the UK and rest of the world to follow.

International Pharmaceutical Federation CEO Catherine Duggan paid tribute to community pharmacy during the Covid pandemic. “As the lights went out across all our communities in a global lockdown, community pharmacies, pharmacists and their teams remained open providing access to medicines supplies, advice and expertise in all our communities,” she said. The event was chaired by former General Pharmaceutical Council chair Nigel Clarke.


Pictured (left to right) are Nick Kaye, Harry McQuillan, Catherine Duggan and James Davies.


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