Three senior pharmacists have been appointed to new roles to help increase the numbers of advanced practice pharmacists working in Scotland.
NHS Education for Scotland (NES) has appointed three national programme leads in response to calls from the Scottish Government’s ‘National Workforce Strategy for Health and Social Care in Scotland’, published in March 2022, “to grow the workforce at the same time as transforming how we work to further increase capacity”.
The programme leads — Paul Forsyth, lead pharmacist for clinical cardiology at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde; Fiona Marra, consultant-accredited infectious disease pharmacist at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde; and Jacqueline Seenan, principal pharmacist for prescribing development and education at NHS Ayrshire and Arran — will provide leadership support to help health boards and community pharmacy build capability and confidence at an advanced practice level and beyond, potentially to consultant pharmacist level.
The roles, which will initially operate until March 2024, are aimed to help health boards plan and implement advanced practice pilots in areas of strategic service importance to the board; increase the number of designated prescribing practitioners (DPPs) across health boards and community pharmacy; and, if there is agreement, help health boards improve awareness of consultant practice across their staff body.
There have been concerns expressed among the pharmacy profession since early 2022 that a lack of DPPs may hinder the broadening of independent prescribing training for pharmacists across the UK.
In a report published in February 2023, NHS Scotland’s ‘Advanced Pharmacist Practitioner Short-Life Working Group’ produced a definition of advanced pharmacist practitioners to work in the Scottish health service as “accredited advanced pharmacists working in a generalist speciality”.
“In addition to the expected characteristics of an advanced pharmacist, they possess the ability to manage patients through full episodes of care by autonomous application of a suite of advanced generalist clinical assessment, investigative, procedural, communicative, diagnostic, prescribing and decision-making skills, over a wide range of clinical systems and presentations specific to that specialism,” it said.
Adam Osprey, policy and development pharmacist at Community Pharmacy Scotland, said it welcomed these appointments. “Whilst the place of foundation-level practice is bedding in across the community pharmacy network, there is work to be done to define where advanced level practice as a formal concept sits in community practice — though we are certain that there are many pharmacists out there already practising at this level every day.
“Similarly, we also welcome a focus on increasing DPP numbers across the whole profession, as this is likely to be one of a few limiting factors to independent prescribing training throughput,” he added.