I have been a long-time enthusiast for joint education at local and national levels for building working relationships and opening doors to new ways of working. While pharmacists work predominantly in silo — an enigma and largely invisible part of the NHS — we will struggle to convince commissioners of our value.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and other representative bodies have announced various initiatives for joint working with GPs over the past few years — notably a recent excellent conference between the RPS and Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) on polypharmacy (20 April 2016). At the few joined-up events that are held it is always a surprise to the doctors that pharmacists have a lot of clinical knowledge.
In my own experience I have participated in a few of these joint events, including a visionary Keele University Diploma in Advanced Therapeutics, which was created for pharmacists and GPs. The GPs were surprised that the pharmacists were more knowledgeable on therapeutics. A few years ago I participated in a trial Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education (CPPE) event for pharmacists and GP registrars, plus their slightly reluctant tutors. The outcome was amazingly positive for all concerned. A joint RCGP/RPS Diabetes Day was held a few years ago which generated similar enthusiasm, but this has not yet spread to a local level to make a difference.
It is time to move things forward on the joined-up education front and this would not be difficult to deliver. Health Education England is already doing great work on professional development and the RPS can help at a royal college and local level. I would like to see local practice forums working more collaboratively with local GP education providers to find a way of getting involved in planning and delivering multidisciplinary training and debate, involving our excellent network of CPPE and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence tutors. The Academic Health Science Networks could help facilitate this through their medicines optimisation programmes.
English Pharmacy Board
Royal Pharmaceutical Society