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How I view the emerging roles for pharmacists within primary care

The following question was asked as part of the online hustings by Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) members to all the candidates standing for election this year:

How do you view the emerging new roles for pharmacists within the primary care sector?


Johnathan Laird
Johnathan Laird


IN my own community pharmacy practice I am pioneering many of the aspects of what I am about to write. I work everyday at the coal face, so make no apologies for making my answer extremely practical in nature. I hope that if elected I may be able to progress my own practice further, but also support others to do so too.

The opportunity for pharmacy in primary care is huge. There are not enough GPs, so this is the area we should be aiming to support. There are also a number of other factors to consider in various sectors.

However, I believe the following elements need to be in place:

  • All pharmacists should be independent prescribers
  • Pharmacist must work in an autonomous way – this is critical to the future survival of the profession
  • Professional autonomy must firmly sit with the pharmacy professional and not a third party.

With this professional responsibility, I have faith that pharmacists will work safely within their own areas of competence. I believe that the support provided by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) will evolve and adapt to meet the needs of this new type of practice.

We need to accelerate the shift towards payment for outcomes in community pharmacy. I support the extension of the pharmacist in general practice scheme to further embed our skill and value there. I am, however, concerned that there is a potential ‘brain-drain’ to general practice and I will continue to make the case for the community pharmacy network.

With registered cohorts of patients gathering momentum through the chronic medication service (CMS) in Scotland, the opportunities to deliver even better pharmaceutical care are huge. As a member of the RPS board, I would work hard to ensure we are making meaningful CMS interventions. Traditionally as pharmacists we are not used to writing up our interventions with patients in the same way that other professionals are. I would support pharmacists to do this so that we can see the impact made by pharmacists. The decision to register a patient for CMS must sit with the pharmacist, and I will support any pharmacist to maintain their professional space to make this call.

Pharmacists should be empowered and rewarded properly for managing caseloads of patients and the independent prescribing qualification is central to this goal. Pharmacists should no longer limit themselves to brief interventions or referrals. Instead, I would like to support pharmacist prescribers to effectively examine, diagnose, prescribe and follow up patients. In this way pharmacists will be empowered to manage patients in some cases.

Pharmacists (prescribers or not) must routinely have read/write access to patient records – there are many patient advantages to this. Without this access, pharmacists cannot safely achieve any of the above goals. As a board member, I would like to support the development of pharmacists’ skills when they eventually have access to records. It is worth noting that there are some pharmacist prescribers in Scotland managing caseloads, but they do not have access to the record. This is deemed appropriate, however, I completely disagree.

Johnathan Laird is a community pharmacist independent prescriber with a special interest in asthma. He is based in Aberdeen and is a candidate for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Scottish Board

Follow Johnathan @JohnathanLaird


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