I have often wondered what pharmacists want? The things that would make a real change to the way that the population views community pharmacy and what would make community pharmacists change? I have blogged about Independent Community Pharmacist Prescriber (limited) a couple of times before. Community pharmacists must have proper access to medicines to enable them to do their job properly. I appreciate that PGDs are there and they can be employed to deliver a service.
But it is not the same. There is nothing like the power of a prescription to change the public’s view on the ability of the community pharmacist to manage conditions. In my opinion, it is a game changer of the greatest order for community pharmacists.
There are some similarities between general practice and community practice. Both are located within communities and considered important functions. Both are run by healthcare professionals respected by their communities. Both have private consulting rooms where people can get advice in a confidential manner. When it comes to providing treatment, the GP can give a prescription, but the community pharmacist has to sell it (or supply it if on a PGD).
I also understand that full independent prescribing is the way to go. It is for some, but it requires a considerable effort. I recently spoke to a senior pharmacist in a large multiple and he simply said ‘I’ll create as many IP pharmacists that are needed to deliver contracts’ – so that is none then! I could wait for the plethora of new contracts that require IP pharmacists in community pharmacy, but I can’t see them coming yet.
I understand that we need to manage training and governance, but they can be overcome. There are also precedents that are set within the NHS that support this process.
Do pharmacists want a prescription pad so they can prescribe medicines from a limited list to patients following a consultation. Many pharmacists have already been trained in common condition treatment and stop smoking treatments and supply medicines through PGDs. Training requirements may be quite small. But I do believe that giving a prescription will save both time and paperwork and the CCG/NHSE will be able to easily see what is prescribed through PACT data.
The response so far from the profession has been mixed. Some of the RPS English national board members were ‘interested’ and some were ‘supportive’. Others, including groups that represent the interest of community pharmacist have kept their powder dry. In fact it all seems quiet on the subject.
So – I have spoken to Oliver Colville and he has approached Lord Howe. I have written to my MP asking for his support and he has also written to Lord Howe. The ball is rolling. I am waiting for the statement from pharmacy organisations, I am waiting for the letters to flow into MPs, and I am waiting for the petitions.
So do pharmacists know what they want? Do they want to have a prescription pad and be able to prescribe medicines within their usual practice? Will they ask for what they want?
I will be able to answer that question very shortly.