Since its launch on 1 April 2022, 134 community pharmacies in Wales have signed up to provide the Pharmacist Independent Prescribing Service (PIPS), according to Judy Thomas, director of contractor services at Community Pharmacy Wales.
PIPS rolled out as a national service following the Welsh government’s publication of ‘A New Prescription’ in December 2021, which set out a new contractual framework for community pharmacy in Wales, having previously been commissioned in a limited number of pharmacies from 2016.
Under the service, pharmacist independent prescribers (IPs) can prescribe treatments for certain minor conditions as well as routine contraception.
Any pharmacy can provide PIPS, as long as they employ a qualified pharmacist independent prescriber and are also providing the ‘Clinical Community Pharmacy Service’ (CCPS), which replaced health board-commissioned common ailment, emergency contraception, emergency medicines supply and influenza vaccination services.
Speaking at The Pharmacy Show in Birmingham on 17 October 2022, Thomas said that 20% of community pharmacies now employ a IP pharmacist.
“We are expecting a whole load more [IP pharmacists],” she told The Pharmaceutical Journal.
“The University of Cardiff is training a lot of IPs for pharmacy. They are due to qualify at the end of the month, so we expect to see a huge jump probably from January . But it’s all going in absolutely the right direction.”
The Pharmaceutical Journal revealed in June 2022 that despite a government-backed target for 30% of pharmacies in Wales to offer IP services, only 13% were offering such services.
In June 2021, health board data showed that pharmacist IPs had delivered more than 16,000 consultations from 33 community pharmacies since 2016.
However, Thomas said at The Pharmacy Show that community pharmacies have now carried out 27,000 independent prescriber consultations since June 2020.
Also speaking at the conference on 17 October 2022, Lloyd Hambridge, deputy chief pharmaceutical officer for Wales, said that PIPS consultation numbers “have increased month-on-month” since the service began.
“We now on average have 5,000 IP consultations delivered by pharmacies across Wales each month,” he added.
At the same session, Andrew Evans, chief pharmaceutical office for Wales, said: “By 2024/25, we’ve set aside £20m to pay pharmacies’ fees for independent prescribing by the end of that period — that’s the order of magnitude that we think is going to be required.”
Community pharmacies in England are currently being invited to submit expressions of interest to participate in a ‘pathfinder’ project that will trial pharmacist independent prescribing services in every region of England from January 2023.