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Pharmacists need to remove the blinkers

shaun hockey

I’VE been a pharmacist for over 20 years and I have to say that there has never been a better time to be a pharmacist.

I’m working with a number of GP surgeries and federations and the question I keep being asked is “What can pharmacist do for us?” It’s no secret that there is a GP workforce crisis looming, and there are real problems for practices recruiting practice nurses and advanced nurse practitioners, but this opportunity is not just driven by problems in other professions; it’s fundamental problems in healthcare provision that really opens opportunities for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.

The second biggest cost to the NHS, after staffing, is drug costs. We manage staff costs reasonably well and manage performance to make sure we get best value for every £1 we spend on staff. Why then do we not do the same for every £1 spent on medication?

All prescribers follow best practice guidelines such as those produced by NICE and pharmacists dispense those items to the patients and then… well, that’s it generally. We have £billions worth of medication swimming around patients homes, nursing and care homes as well as other establishments, and no idea what is happening to this resource.

This is where pharmacists can make a massive difference. I have a slogan and that is “If it’s medication it’s my responsibility”. I see my job and making sure that patients get maximum benefit from the investment the NHS has made in their medication and care. I try to educate patients and their carers and discuss changes with prescribers to maximise compliance and therefore clinical outcomes.

The problem we have in the pharmacy profession is the blinkers we wear. Many pharmacists see their primary role as that of supply, and while supply will always remain a really important part of the role of the pharmacy profession, the opportunities start to appear when we take the blinkers off.

My Medicines Manager is a result of one of those un-blinkered moments. We secured funding from the Prime Ministers Challenge fund via the local GP federation and we have been visiting the 10 most challenging patients from each practice from a compliance point of view. We have 20 practices to visit and so roughly 200 patients. In the first five practices we have made over 150 interventions/suggestions and the practices seem to be loving it.

This is just the beginning, and an example of how we can take the blinkers off. A future article will provide more detail about this initiative.

Shaun Hockey is pharmacist. He runs a medical recruitment company, Medacy. Check out his site for vacancies.

Follow Shaun @shaunhockey

Visit his My Medicines Manager website



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