Comment Blog 18 September, 2017

Delivering for patients- integrated working in pharmacy

The increasing recognition of the role pharmacists can play in supporting high quality patient care as part of an integrated team has meant that the opportunities for the profession have never been greater. There is a growing feeling from policy makers, fellow health care professionals and patients that pharmacists are a key part of the answer to deliver integrated care. They are well able to support the growing number of people who take medicines to keep them well. They can also improve compliance and this is increasingly important given that up to 50% of people do not take their medicines as prescribed. The NHS should learn lessons from pharmacy, both in terms of how care can be better delivered in the community and how training can be improved.

There are pockets of examples of best practice, where pharmacists have become part of an integrated team in the community and have improved outcomes for patients.

For example, the Haxby Group Practice, 10 GP surgeries in York and Hull, now employs three pharmacists. The pharmacists specialise in managing patient medicine, either remotely or over the telephone. Each pharmacist can do, in 35 hours a week, work that was taking GPs 60 hours a week.  The quality of medicines management has improved with quicker, more reliable prescribing. This has enhanced patient outcomes and resulted in savings for the practice.

It is important to emphasise that success stories such as the above are the exception not the norm. They too often rely on committed individuals persisting to secure the multi-professional, support, trust and alignment required for successful change. To replicate this practice across the workforce and create a more integrated workforce, the Government need to establish a proper training framework which will allow all professional groups to work closer together to deliver patient care.

The report from Reform has made some welcome recommendations to speed up the move towards a health and social care workforce which is more nimble and responsive to the changing needs of the communities in which we live. I look forward to the pharmacy profession playing a key role in this bright future.