I think the pharmacy profession could slip into oblivion sooner rather than later if nothing is done to change the status quo. The way to give the profession a new lease of life is to fully support the government’s idea to train pharmacists to become doctors.
The tasks we do at the moment can be assigned to other clinicians as time goes on; dispensing, accuracy checking and procurement, which used to be the sole preserve of pharmacists, have already been reassigned to pharmacy technicians.
The easiest and most effective way to place pharmacists in their rightful place — at the hub of the NHS and healthcare in the UK — is this option to fast-track medical training for pharmacists. Only then can we become NHS trust directors, GP practice leaders and owners.
In my experience so far, I have not seen an NHS trust, clinical commissioning group or primary care network led by pharmacists. Think about the benefits of a general practice led and owned by a pharmacist-turned-GP: this should be our focus as we move pharmacy practice to the next level in the UK. Medical training is already a natural progression for pharmacists in the United States. Why not in the UK?
This pathway is also another way pharmacy professionals can be seen as playing a major role in mobilising support for the shortage of doctors in the NHS. The training could be funded by the NHS in the way funding is already provided for the training of clinical pharmacists moving into primary care.
I see pharmacists as the most highly skilled health professionals with least utilised clinical skills in the UK. So many newly qualified pharmacists become disillusioned and frustrated after few years of pharmacy practice because half of the clinical skills they learned in the university are not used in practice, especially in community pharmacy practice. The option to train as a doctor, with excellent pharmacy knowledge, would be an effective way to motivate, empower and preserve our noble profession.
We must seize the day and fully support the agenda of fast-track medical training for pharmacists. It’s a win-win for pharmacists and the NHS.
Victoria Akomolafe, hospital and community pharmacist, Essex