Every community pharmacy in Wales will employ a pharmacy independent prescriber (PIP) by 2030 under a Welsh government advisory body’s long-term plan for the profession.
‘Pharmacy: Delivering a healthier Wales’, published on 23 May 2019, forms part of plans to launch an “extended common ailments services” across the sector, which the proposed plans suggest could see pharmacists given access to GP records within the same timeframe.
The proposals, which were commissioned by the Welsh government to be drawn up by the Welsh Pharmaceutical Committee, outlines four areas for change in pharmacy, including: enhancing patient experience; developing the workforce; providing “seamless” patient care; and a greater use of technology.
As part of its aim to improve the patient experience with pharmacy, the report also proposes to increase the number of PIPs in general practice and hospitals, with all patient-facing pharmacists working in these areas expected to qualify as a PIP “within three years of the publication of this plan”.
According to the document, 30% of pharmacists are qualified to prescribe, but “only 60% are routinely utilising this skill”.
The document says: “The use of PIPs working in all community pharmacies, integrated with GP practices for access to patient records, will further enable the pharmacy team to help patients manage acute conditions.”
An existing scheme launched the Dudley Taylor Pharmacy in Llanidloes in Powys, Wales, has already shown success by enabling PIPs to support and treat “a wider range of conditions than what is offered through” the current common ailment service.
“A formalised extended common ailment service, similar to the Llanidloes example … will be available for patients in every community pharmacy by 2030,” the document assures, adding that the Llanidloes pharmacy “has secure access to the GP-held patient records, ensuring a robust process that enables safe prescribing and continuity of care”.
The proposals include setting up a central electronic patient health record by 2022, which will be “accessed and updated by practitioners involved in their care, including the pharmacy team” by 2030.
“We will have the digital connectivity necessary to input into, and work with, a central patient electronic health record which is also accessible to the patient,” it said.
The proposals added that being granted access to information about patients’ conditions “will allow the pharmacy team to provide increased and tailored medicines information and support for patients”.
The document also outlines plans to gather data “about the wider lifestyle choices made by patients, [such as] from purchases in shops or online and personal fitness trackers”. It plans to use information to create “a health and wellbeing profile for patients”, which will be shared with pharmacists to facilitate illness prevention services.
Pharmacists will also be able to refer patients for tests, such as “full blood counts and urinalysis”, in an effort to save GP time and give patients quicker access to results, under the proposals.
Meanwhile, patients will also be referred to community pharmacy by other healthcare professionals through “formal referral pathways”.
NHS England’s ‘Long Term Plan’, published on 7 January 2019, outlined similar plans for GPs to refer patients to community pharmacy following a pilot scheme in 2019.
Commenting on the document, Andrew Evans, chief pharmaceutical officer for Wales, said it will “form the basis, I hope, of our future contractual discussions with community pharmacy in Wales, with ministers, setting out clearly how pharmacies … can make a greater contribution to improving the health and wellbeing of patients in Wales”.
“There is a huge amount in there that community pharmacy should be optimistic about and, if we get behind this … there is a really strong future for community pharmacy in Wales,” he added.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) assisted with drawing up the proposals. Mair Davies, director for RPS Wales, told The Pharmaceutical Journal: “We trust that the solutions the report offers will give the government the confidence to invest in the future of pharmacy and set up a Welsh government programme delivery implementation board.”
- This article was amended on 29 May 2019 to reflect that the document was drawn up by a Welsh government advisory body and not the Welsh government. We have also changed the article to reflect that the document was not jointly drawn up by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society but was instead drawn up with its support.