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RPS unveils 10-year vision to 'unlock' pharmacy’s potential


RPS unveils 10-year vision to 'unlock' pharmacy’s potential

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has published a 10-year vision it believes could help "unlock" the potential of pharmacy in England to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing the NHS.

A report on the vision, commissioned by the English Pharmacy Board and based on the findings of a consultation of pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, patients and other stakeholders, sets out how pharmacy professionals can be integrated into health and care systems through better use of data and research, strong leadership and effective collaboration. 

The vision, which was informed by an advisory group of health and care leaders chaired by King’s Fund chief executive Richard Murray, also calls for a “comprehensive pharmacy workforce strategy.”

The vision strives to broadly achieve three things. Firstly, it wants pharmacy teams to be integrated across the health and care spectrum so they can reach people in deprived areas, those suffering from health inequalities and people who are unable to access care.

It wants pharmacy professionals such as independent prescribers and pharmacy technicians to support patients with “complex medicines needs and long-term conditions” to make decisions about their medicines as part of “digitally connected multidisciplinary teams.” And it envisages pharmacy enhancing the patient experience through the use of patient-facing digital technology, remote monitoring and artificial intelligence.

The report identifies a key role for pharmacy in continuing to prevent ill-health and promote healthy living by reaching out to community and faith leaders and helping tackle the social determinants of health inequalities.

It insists pharmacy teams “have a pivotal role as public health and community leaders” over the next decade and are ideally placed to provide a social prescribing service by addressing issues that contribute to poor mental and physical health such as housing, social isolation, poverty and debt by working alongside voluntary and charitable organisations.

It cites the example of a Prestwich community pharmacy’s social prescribing team working with a GP practice to provide a weekly “community living room” where patients waiting for their prescription meet to talk about health issues. The report said it helps reduce patients’ sense of social isolation.

EPB chair Thorrun Govind said the 42 integrated care systems in England, which bring healthcare providers, service commissioners and local authorities together to design and roll out services “will be crucial” to unlocking pharmacy’s potential.

“There are so many opportunities for pharmacy teams to provide better support to patients and the public to prevent ill-health, improve health and reduce health inequalities,” she said. “Implementation of the vision will unlock the potential of pharmacy across the hospital sector, general practice, community pharmacy, industry and academia.”

To help patients choose the best medicines to meet their individual needs, the report said pharmacists and pharmacy technicians will be able to access and process genome sequencing information from their health records while pharmacy teams “will be embedded in pharmacogenomic pathways at different levels.”

“They will advise other prescribers on medicine-gene interactions or use genetic variation data to guide medicine choice. Screening programmes will be directed using genomic information,” the report said.

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, it added, will gain knowledge and skills in this area from “undergraduate or trainee level through to foundation, advanced and consultant level". 

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