The role of the pharmacist is an integral part of a plan set up by leading health bodies to ensure sustainable staffing in emergency departments (EDs).
The plan is set out in a report, ‘Securing the future workforce for emergency departments in England October 2017’, written by Health Education England, NHS England, NHS Improvement and Royal College of Emergency Medicine.
It comes as ED attendances and admissions, as well as the overall complexity of patient needs, continue to rise resulting in staff struggling to deliver safe and effective care to patients, who totalled 23 million patients in the last year alone.
“We know we need more clinical staff, both senior decision-makers and those making up the broader clinical workforce, to address the significant pressure on our emergency departments,” say Professor Ian Cumming, chief executive of Health Education England, and Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, in the report’s introduction.
One of the key proposals is to develop, by 2020, a workforce of advanced clinical practitioners (ACP), pharmacist clinicians and physician associates to “take on collaborative, frontline clinical roles in EDs under the supervision and mentorship of consultants in emergency medicine”.
This will include developing and funding an ACP fast track programme, with funding for 42 ACPs to start working across 14 trusts this year, rising to 84 ACPs starting work next year.
“These groups form an important part of today’s emergency care workforce, giving it greater resilience and sustainability,” says the report.
The report also includes plans to deploy clinically trained pharmacist prescribers to work alongside junior doctors to undertake medicines-focused duties such as pre-discharge medicines optimisation, medicines reconciliation and prescribing; optimising the use of medicines on admission to emergency and acute care; and supporting medicine reconciliation pre-discharge of acutely ill patients.
This model frees up doctors’ time to focus on more complex clinical work, reduces patient waiting times and delivers safe patient care, the report says.
The report also includes plans to enrol more doctors onto emergency medicine training, to grow the number of qualified physician associates to 3,200 by 2019, reduce attrition in medical training and improve retention.