The first consultant pharmacist working at a population level in primary care has been appointed by Dudley clinical commissioning group (CCG).
Although there are around 70 other consultant pharmacists working in the NHS, and the position was established in 2005, Clair Huckerby is thought to be the first consultant pharmacist for primary care and community medicines optimisation working in the UK.
Previously pharmaceutical adviser for Dudley CCG, Huckerby has worked in the area for 15 years in both community and hospital pharmacy. She said her new role showed the importance of primary care pharmacy and reflected the need for the creation of an established career path in the sector, where career progression can often be perceived to be “flat”.
“For me this is the obvious step for the profession to take,” she said. “It shows the journey primary care pharmacy can take, as it can be perceived as not having a clear career pathway, unlike hospital pharmacy, which is much more hierarchical. This is a huge opportunity to show skills escalation, from internships all the way through to specialist and consultant level.
“We have seen a real shift towards primary care pharmacy working across a whole population in recent years and are also working with universities to make clear the opportunities available to undergraduates.
“On a personal level it also gives huge job satisfaction and career validation, including undertaking the [Royal Pharmaceutical Society] Faculty membership process.”
Huckerby said more research is needed to show the role that primary care pharmacy can have in improving medicines optimisation and overall care, to which her consultant role will contribute. She will also lead on the development of the primary care clinical pharmacy workforce in Dudley.
A spokesperson for Dudley CCG said implementing the role was part of its work to become a multispecialty community provider later in 2018, with four local trusts and several GPs operating under a single, whole-population budget.
Keith Ridge, NHS England chief pharmaceutical officer, said he was “delighted” to see the recognition of the specialist role pharmacy plays in population based healthcare.
“I’m delighted to see this development but more than that I’m convinced people in this area will benefit from better health outcomes from medicines as a result,” he said.