All health boards in Wales will be able to commission additional pharmacies to provide the ‘Choose Pharmacy’ independent prescribing service (IPS) from 1 November 2021.
The service was first launched as a pilot in June 2020, allowing pharmacist independent prescribers to record clinical information and medicines prescribed during a ‘Choose Pharmacy’ consultation for conditions such as hay fever, athlete’s foot and eye infections.
In an email seen by The Pharmaceutical Journal, Liz Sayce, project manager of the ‘Choose Pharmacy’ project at Digital Health and Care Wales (DHCW), said on 18 October 2021 that the organisation had completed an “assurance process for the national roll out” of the IPS.
The assurance means that “all health boards are invited to commission/accredit sites and encourage their pharmacist IPs to seek accreditation to use the IPS module on Choose [Pharmacy]”, she said.
Sayce added that the “roll out will start on Monday 1 November ”.
The service’s expansion comes after health board data revealed that independent prescribers working in 33 community pharmacies in Wales have delivered more than 16,000 consultations since 2016.
A spokesperson for Community Pharmacy Wales (CPW), which represents more than 700 pharmacy owners in Wales, said: “[The IPS] module on the ‘Choose Pharmacy’ platform has passed the assurances within the DHCW board to allow the module to be extended beyond the pilot phase to any additional pharmacies in Wales that health boards wish to commission to provide IP services.”
They added that CPW “welcomes the extension of the module”.
Jonathan Lloyd Jones, policy and engagement lead at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in Wales, said the Society is “thrilled that the DHCW have completed the assurance process” for the IPS.
“We look forward to supporting the further development of this fantastic service which provides great access to care for patients across Wales,” he added.
In December 2016, Dudley Taylor Pharmacy in Llanidloes, Powys, was the first pharmacy to begin delivering IPSs in Wales, which enabled an independent prescribing pharmacist to supply certain medicines to patients registered with nearby Arwystli Medical Practice, without the need to visit a GP.
‘Pharmacy: delivering a healthier Wales’ — the long-term plan for the future of pharmacy in Wales, published in May 2019 — said that a service “similar to the Llanidloes example … will be available for patients in every community pharmacy by 2030”.
It added that the NHS in Wales will have “30% of community pharmacies with an independent prescriber actively providing services” by 2022.
A spokesperson for the Welsh government said: “Significant progress has been made in increasing the number of community pharmacists able to prescribe medicines for a wider range of ailments.
“Our continued investment in our ‘Choose Pharmacy’ application will provide all community pharmacists with access to the clinical information they need to make appropriate prescribing decisions and, importantly, to share the outcome of their consultations with patients’ GPs.”
Across the UK, the number of independent prescribers has tripled since 2016.
In May 2021, Keith Ridge, chief pharmaceutical officer for England, said that NHS England was “identifying funding” to provide community pharmacists with independent prescriber training.