It is on every pharmacist’s lips – the future is clinical. Every pharmacist has ‘clinical skills’ – the ability to engage with people, clinical understanding, diagnosis, decision making and prescribing whether this is lifestyle or a variety of medicinal products through different routes.
However, there are some fundamental points that we must remember. Clinical pharmacists will work to their employer rules. We can probably describe these better, but here is a starter:
- Hospital clinical pharmacists – we get patients in, get them sorted and get them out, as quickly, safely and effectively as possible. Very basic I know, but trying to keep it simple.
- Practice pharmacists – work to deliver the GP contract profitably. Driving efficiency and effectiveness, seeing patients working in a team to deliver care to a registered population.
- Community pharmacists – work to deliver the pharmacy contract, advanced and enhanced services, delivering care to a catchment population / community within a business aiming to satisfy customer health needs professionally and profitably within a unity pharmacy team.
- Commissioning group pharmacists – work to deliver the commissioning objectives, reviewing medicines, producing guidelines, contributing to pathways, audit and review and advising HCPs on the cost-effective use of medicines
The skills may be transferable, even some of the functions may be the same, they may overlap and interact, but are essentially different. Things that you need to know; people that you interact with; the services that you offer will require a different mind-set, different advanced training and different performance markers. Just like worzel gummidge a pharmacist will need to change heads and get up to speed to move from sector to sector.
There are consultant pharmacists, heads of medicines optimisation, partners/clinical leads in General Practice and advanced community pharmacy practitioners.
The conversation will have to start with ownership and responsibility for people – these are our people / communities / patients / clients. We must understand how we reach them, their health needs, what we do for them and the resilience, health and wellbeing we create. We must then understand how they move between sectors and how we manage the boundaries. And then what we can do together when one plus one makes three in synergistic, co-operative care. Pharmacist to pharmacist referrals across sectors will become commonplace and multi-pharmacist, multi-disciplinary meetings will carve up a clinical pathway recognising the value of everyone’s contribution to care.