This is a campaign letter for the 2021 RPS national pharmacy board elections. The views expressed in this letter belong to the author. Find out more about the RPS elections.
Digital enablement of the Health and Care system in Scotland continues apace and has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic response over the past 15 months. However, it appears that pharmacy, as a profession, has fared less well than many other professions.
The recommendations from the Topol review apply equally in Scotland and it is beholden on the RPS to both champion digital inclusion within its membership, and to support members to maximise and leverage the digital skills required to thrive in an increasingly technology-enabled future.
NHS Scotland accelerated its rollout of Microsoft Office 365 (O365) in the early phases of the pandemic response to facilitate greater remote working. This included access to the video conferencing application Teams. All secondary care/managed service pharmacists and technicians now have O365 identities on the national tenancy with access to O365 office applications, as well as email and Teams. Unfortunately, community pharmacists were considered to be ‘out of scope’ of this programme and to date have received email only connection to NHS Scotland. This has effectively denied community pharmacists the opportunity to be part of a wider multidisciplinary team and provides them with less access to clinical data than a junior receptionist in a GP practice. This situation is clearly detrimental to patient care and needs to change.
As part of my candidacy for the RPS Scottish Pharmacy Board, I aim to support the Board to drive the digital agenda for pharmacy in Scotland so that this current two-tier system is reversed, and all pharmacists and technicians are incorporated into the national tenancy, as well as given appropriate access to both necessary clinical data and the tools required to make the best use of that data.
I bring considerable experience of working within the digital field both from technology and data aspects. As a Fellow of the UK Faculty of Clinical Informatics, I am able to tap into networks and resources which very few pharmacists in Scotland are currently able to do. I believe that this will bring benefits to both the Board and the profession in Scotland.
If we fail to create and grasp digital opportunities, we will make ourselves, and our professional contribution to the health and care agenda, less relevant.
William (Iain) Bishop, election candidate, Scottish Pharmacy Board, Royal Pharmaceutical Society