More than 60 pharmacies in Wales could provide independent prescribing services under health board plans

Exclusive: Welsh health boards have told The Pharmaceutical Journal that they are planning to commission 40 additional pharmacies during winter 2021 and into 2022 to provide independent prescribing services.

Health boards in Wales are planning to commission 40 community pharmacies to provide the ‘Choose Pharmacy’ independent prescribing (IP) service in the coming months, The Pharmaceutical Journal has learnt.

This is in addition to 22 pharmacies that have already been commissioned to provide the service since its expansion on 1 November 2021, including 14 additional pharmacies in Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.

The IP service allows pharmacist independent prescribers to assess and diagnose minor illnesses, and record clinical information and medicines prescribed during a ‘Choose Pharmacy’ consultation for conditions such as hay fever, athlete’s foot and eye infections.

As of June 2021, pharmacists had delivered more than 16,000 consultations through the IP service from 33 pharmacies across Wales since 2016.

The service was later expanded to enable all health boards in Wales to begin commissioning additional pharmacies to provide the service.

A spokesperson for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board told The Pharmaceutical Journal that it had commissioned “four new community pharmacy sites this winter, delivering the acute condition minor ailments service alongside the five established contraception service community pharmacy sites”.

“We have identified an additional three sites that we will be looking to work with and support to deliver the acute condition minor ailments service as we progress through the winter months and into 2022,” they said.

The Choose Pharmacy IP service module includes acute conditions as well as provision of oral contraception and management of drug withdrawal.

A spokesperson for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board said that since the expansion of the IP service was announced, “we’ve commissioned two additional pharmacies to provide the service, and are finalising arrangements with another six”, bringing the total number of pharmacies offering the IP service in the health board to 17.

Swansea Bay University Health Board also confirmed to The Pharmaceutical Journal that two more pharmacies will be providing the IP service “shortly”, in addition to the five already running the service, and added that the health board has “plans to introduce a further six in early 2022”.

Hywel Dda Health Board said that while it currently has four pharmacies offering an IP service, “there are at least another seven new sites that the health board plans to commission services from in the next three to six months”.

“A further eight pharmacists have or will commence [IP] training between now and March 2022, which will offer further opportunities to commission IP services towards the end of 2022/23,” they said.

Jason Carroll, pharmacy team leader at Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, said the board was “currently supporting ten pharmacies to join the IP service, with the aim of commissioning them as soon as possible after the pharmacists have completed their training”, adding to the five pharmacies already running the IP services.

“Our intention is to continue to grow the number of pharmacies able to offer the IP service to meet the ambition set out in ‘Pharmacy: Delivering a Healthier Wales’”.

Pharmacy: Delivering a Healthier Wales‘, a government plan published in April 2019, set out the ambition for each community pharmacy in Wales to have an independent prescriber by 2030.

The strategy also set out an intermediate plan for 30% of community pharmacies to have an independent prescriber by 2022.

Powys Teaching Health Board did not respond to requests for comment.

Read more: A quiet revolution — how pharmacist prescribers are reshaping parts of the NHS

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Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, November 2021, Vol 307, No 7955;307(7955)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2021.1.117294