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.
As a candidate standing for the English Pharmacy Board in the RPS 2021 elections, I have been asked what my policies and positions are on some topics. As a pharmacist that works at Board level of local, regional and national organisations, I understand how a national strategy can influence policy development and local implementation of healthcare services. I therefore consider the rapidly evolving strategy of healthcare provision — locally and nationally — as an opportunity to influence these strategies, and this must be embedded in the RPS long term business plan to help the profession to thrive.
Firstly, the development of Integrated Care Systems (ICS) since 2016. Although it may appear that it will affect the community setting most, I disagree as it will promote better integrated working between a number of different settings, including primary care, hospital trusts, local authorities, allied workers and the voluntary sector. Pharmacy plays a role in most of these settings and, arguably, the RPS should have a voice on shaping the strategy, which will help future commissioners make shared decisions for local population healthcare service delivery.
“Integration!” I hear you say… It is crucial that we stop working in isolated silos and expect patients to run between settings to access healthcare services. The answer therefore lies in making the relevant healthcare decisions at the point (or place) of access, while allowing organisations to work cross-boundary to deliver person-centred healthcare and support. So yes, there must be an element of integration, which is the means to deliver better healthcare outcomes for patients, rather than the end of this healthcare journey. However, integration of all healthcare providers is not necessarily the answer.
Secondly, with the government’s new draft health white paper leaking on 5 February 2021, I worry that pharmacy will yet again be standing on the periphery while the landscape is strategically being re-disorganised. This lack of pharmacy input is evident in the fact that in the text, ‘pharmacy’ is mentioned once but ‘pharmacist’ is not mentioned at all — a great concern of mine. It is encouraging to note that the RPS is mentioned as a stakeholder. However, as the professional membership body for pharmacists and pharmacy, it is crucial that members have a say, allowing for an active and growing membership. No doubt this will in turn give the RPS the authority to speak on behalf of the whole profession.
Jay Badenhorst, election candidate, English Pharmacy Board, Royal Pharmaceutical Society