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Scotland the Brave

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Scotland the Brave

The NHS in Scotland has not been fettered by the reforms in England. North of the border, pharmacy has taken a different path – many would say a better path – of active and enthusiastic engagement with other professional groups. And now it has been announced that pharmacies in Scotland will participate in a major national research project where they will take over the monitoring of high-risk medicines from GPs.

Four health boards – Fife, Grampian, Highland and Greater Glasgow & Clyde – will take part in the Scottish Patient Safety Programme in Primary Care, which will last for two years. Each board will select a high-risk medicine such as lithium, methotrexate or warfarin and, working with community pharmacists, try to improve how effectively and safely it is used. This is fantastic! Last year, the results of a six- month audit of high-risk medicines in England found multiple inadequacies in the way such medicines were used, including failure to have blood tests within the right time frame, failure to provide patient record books, and nearly 1,000 patients showing signs of toxicity or needing a referral back to their GP.

We constantly hear demands for more evidence to back up our ideas for extending pharmacists’ roles – what more evidence is needed? Bravo to NHS Scotland for recognising the importance of this colossal problem, for understanding that pharmacists are ideally placed to play an important role, and for persuading GPs to relinquish some of their responsibility. Bravo, too, to pharmacists in Scotland for having the bottle to take on the risk of developing this new service under conditions of very close scrutiny. I anticipate great things and I can’t wait to see the results.

Pen name of a practising independent community pharmacist. Withering’s views are not necessarily those of ICP

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