Learn how collaborative working can enable pharmacists to optimise care

In this second RPS conference preview article, Sandra Melville describes the stream she is chairing, which focuses on helping patients to get the best from their medicines.


As pharmacists move towards being more fully integrated members of healthcare teams, collaborative working becomes a necessary feature of their professional lives. I believe this is a compelling theme running through the stream “Improving pharmaceutical care by optimising the use of medicines” at this year’s Royal Pharmaceutical Society Annual Conference. Participants will have the opportunity to learn how collaborative working, in a variety of settings and circumstances, can enhance the care we provide our patients.

In the many years since I qualified as a pharmacist, I cannot recall a more exciting time to be a member of our profession than right now. Visionary documents published in the past year have highlighted the range of opportunities available for pharmacists to deliver high-quality patient care.

The 2013 document “Now or never: the report of the Commission on Future Models of Care delivered through pharmacy” recognises the important role pharmacists play in helping patients manage their own conditions. The RPS-commissioned report acknowledges the need for a significant rethink of the models of care through which pharmacy is delivered, but says there is a pressing need for patients, the public, other healthcare colleagues and policy-makers to understand the extent of the role that pharmacists can and do have in providing patient care. It makes clear that a shift is needed from dispensing and supply towards using the professional expertise of pharmacists as care providers.

The 2013 Scottish Government report “Prescription for excellence: a vision and action plan for the right pharmaceutical care through integrated partnerships and innovation” takes this idea further and, I believe, has implications that will resound throughout the whole of the UK.

The action plan has the potential to change the culture within which we practise. Pharmacists are to play a central part in managing patients with long-term conditions, multiple morbidities and associated complex drug regimens. They will have their own case loads, working in collaboration with healthcare colleagues as independent prescribers.

Opening this conference stream, deputy chief pharmaceutical officer for Scotland Alpana Mair will set the scene for how these professional changes will happen. In this opening session delegates will hear examples where this type of working has already been put into practice, what challenges were encountered and how these were addressed. Session speakers include Martin Wilson, consultant geriatrician and specialist in polypharmacy, and Anthony Avery, director of research, School of Medicine, University Of Nottingham, who will also take part in a panel discussion.

Results from the Community Pharmacy Future project — a joint venture of several large UK pharmacy multiples — will be discussed in another session. Participants will learn how collaborative approaches to delivering care have produced favourable outcomes for patients and hear about the implementation and roll-out of this project.

Cancer care

Although the role pharmacy plays in supporting patients with cancer has long been recognised, treatments continue to become more complex. I believe this makes the expertise of pharmacists ever more crucial to ensure cancer patients achieve the best outcomes, with minimal toxicities. Nicola Stoner, cancer consultant pharmacist at Oxford Cancer and Haematology Centre and Oxford Cancer Research Centre, will give a presentation about how to improve consultation skills, particularly when dealing with sensitive issues.

Because patients with cancer are living longer and more oral anticancer therapies are being prescribed, it is becoming increasingly common for community pharmacists to be involved in their care. Bruce Burnett, teacher practitioner in pharmacy practice at the University of Wolverhampton, will describe a cancer care initiative in the community.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 21/28 June 2014, Vol 292, No 7815/6;292(7815/6):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2014.20065354

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