English Pharmacy Board meeting report: February 2018

Board discussed the Society’s draft policy on independent prescribing, which says that all pharmacists providing direct patient care should have the opportunity to become an independent prescriber, and how pharmacists can be proactive in helping improve services for people with mental health problems.

The English Pharmacy Board’s (EPB) first meeting of the year took place on 1 February 2018 at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) London office.

The English Pharmacy Board’s (EPB) first meeting of the year took place on 1 February 2018 at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) London office. Guests at the meeting included Paul Bennett, chief executive of the RPS; Ashok Soni, president of the RPS; Ian Bates, professor of pharmacy education at the School of Pharmacy, University College London and education adviser to the English Pharmacy Board; Sarah Billington, head of medicines optimisation at the Care Quality Commission (CQC); Claire May, co-chair of Sussex Local Practice Forum (LPF); Nisa Khan, RPS Greater Manchester; Ishaq Goga, lecturer in pharmacy practice at the University of Central Lancashire; and Graeme Hood, chief pharmaceutical officer’s clinical fellow. Apologies were received from Mahendra Patel.

After opening the meeting and welcoming guests, Sandra Gidley, chair of the EPB, reminded the Board that three members — Sultan “Sid” Dajani, Aamer Safdar, Catherine Armstrong and Claire Anderson — were due to step down on 21 June 2018 after serving a three-year term. Nominations for the 2018 elections open on 15 March 2018.

Independent prescribing policy

The Board discussed the Society’s draft policy on independent prescribers (IPs). Andrew Cooke, interim practice and policy lead at the RPS, said the policy was intended to support IPs in existing and new roles across all care settings. The policy states that all pharmacists providing direct patient care should have the opportunity to become an IP. Among other recommendations, the draft policy states that the designated practitioner role should be broadened to include qualified and practising non-medical IPs, and that all pharmacists directly involved in patient care should have full read/write access to the patient health record, with patient consent.

There was broad agreement with the content of the draft policy. Elizabeth Butterfield, Board member, suggested that the policy be used more widely, beyond stakeholder influence, to promote pharmacists as expert generalist prescribers. “We are different from other prescribers because of our expertise in medicines”, she said. “I would like to see that more upfront.”

It was agreed that following minor edits to the text, based on board feedback, the chairs of each board would sign off the policy.

Mental health campaign

The Board discussed the scope of the Society’s forthcoming campaign to improve mental health; something the Board called for in 2017. The campaign will focus on what pharmacists can do to ensure that people with a mental health issue have “a good experience of pharmacy”, and not on developing new bespoke services.

Discussing what could be in scope, board member Aamer Safdar said that children were becoming more stressed, and schools often lack the resources to support students with anxiety. Soni agreed and said that a focus on teenagers, too, would be useful, and that pharmacists could have a greater role in identifying the signs of self-harm.

Dajani and Butterfield both highlighted the link between loneliness and mental illness, with Dajani adding that mental illness wass regarded as a disease state when it was “more of a holistic thing”, and Butterfield asked if we were sometimes medicalising people who were at root lonely — for example, those in care homes.

Source: Courtesy, Sibby Buckle

English Pharmacy Board members and guests. From left to right: Graeme Hood, Sibby Buckle, Neal Patel, Claire May, Elizabeth Butterfield and Sid Dajani

Sibby Buckle, vice chair of the Board, added that the Society should think about workplace pressure and anxiety, and the general mental health of those in the pharmaceutical profession.

Members will be updated on the final shape and timescale of the campaign in the coming months.

Response to NHS workforce consultation

The Board discussed the NHS Workforce consultation “Facing the Facts, Shaping the Future” — the results of which will be published in July 2018 to coincide with the NHS’s 70th anniversary. Giving an overview of current pharmacy education, Ian Bates said that by 2030 demand for healthcare workers would outstrip supply if nations did not adequately plan the shape of their future healthcare workforces.

The WHO, he said, considers the pharmacy workforce key to challenging future shortages in demand for healthcare workers.

Bates said that the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) could help the UK to “re-focus” its response to workforce development, noting its existing framework for pharmacy workforce development goals. The RPS could, he added, align to and map policy with FIP.

Bates concluded by saying that we had solutions, and we needed to present them in a systematic way. The board agreed that RPS professional development and workforce policies would align to the FIP’s goals.

Gidley said that board members would feed back into the NHS consultation.

CQC presentation

Billington, head of medicines optimisation at the Care Quality Commission (CQC), briefed the Board on the CQC’s work. The Commission, she said, monitors, inspects and regulates services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality. It regulates every healthcare site in England, with the exception of registered pharmacies and high-street opticians. Billington’s team currently has 44 pharmacy registrants, with both pharmacists (including specialist pharmacists) and pharmacy technicians on the team.

Considering how the RPS and CQC could continue to work together, Billington highlighted adult social care. “Pharmacists in any form of adult social care make a huge difference”, she said, adding that – “anything the RPS can do to promote this would have a big impact.” Billington also proposed the RPS could assist pharmacists who provide online services, to help them fully understand the requirements around, for example, patient identity checks and obtaining consent.

Other business

Sharing the business plan for 2018, Gidley highlighted major work around revalidation, supervision, mental health, and a planned diabetes campaign. In policy and practice updates, John Lunny said the Society responded to the House of Commons Health Select Committee’s consultation on “Brexit – medicines, medical devices and substances of human origin”, and Gareth Jones said that revalidation support would be a major part of local engagement as the Society heads into 2018. Dajani pointed out that the Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD) was now only one year away, and Gidley noting that that this should be borne in mind by the board in future meetings.

Finally, Sandra Gidley noted that this was board member and past chair David Branford’s final meeting as he was stepping down early from his post. Gidley thanked Branford for his leadership and impassioned defence of pharmacy, and said the board wished him the best of luck in future. Responding, Branford said that it had been a “huge honour” to be chair, and said that his ongoing work in the learning disability field as “a joy. Pharmacy is a fantastic career.”

  • The date of the next English Pharmacy Board meeting was set for 12 April 2018.
Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, February 2018, Vol 300, No 7910;300(7910):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2018.20204397

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