Pharmacists respond to Keith Ridge’s claims

Keith Ridge’s speech at the recent Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s annual conference in Birmingham has sparked a lively debate with some pharmacists calling for more funding to implement proposed changes.

Keith Ridge chief pharmaceutical officer

Pharmacists have offered a mixed response to claims by Keith Ridge, the chief pharmaceutical officer for England, that pharmacy needs to “up its game”.

Ridge made the statement during his speech at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) annual conference in Birmingham on 4 September 2017.

While acknowledging “much good practice” across the sector, he told delegates there remained “serious problems in respect to the quality of medicines use”, highlighting polypharmacy, issues around adherence, medication errors and unnecessary antimicrobial use.

“Sometimes”, he said, “it can look like pharmacy is not open to change.”

In an open message to Ridge published in response to 
The Pharmaceutical Journal’s report
of the speech, Joseph Schofield, a community pharmacist, said: “In the current climate of reduced funding, a delayed and watered down Pharmacy Integration Fund, cut backs in local commissioning and diminishing chance of being commissioned, is it not time for you and your team to up your game?

“We want to change in all the ways you want us to change. What are you going to do about it?”

Other pharmacists agreed that more funding was needed. Mike Hewitson, an independent pharmacy contractor and member of the NPA and PSNC boards, said that “upping the game” was “difficult to do … while cutting back on service in every area”.

Hewitson added that while he did not disagree with Ridge’s statement that there were problems with medicines use, “his strategy has only made the problem worse. Quality Payments are nothing more than a box-ticking exercise.”

Responding to the same statement, Tim Harrington said: “Totally agree but good quality comes at a price. KR’s failed policy to close pharmacies is unhelpful.”

Dezzy, a pharmacist, said that the “
DoH needs to ‘up pharmacy’s funding’ so it has the resources to ‘up its game’.

But Sammu Dhaliwall, a Canadian pharmacist, showed support for Ridge. In response to Ridge’s comment that “the quality expected simply can’t be delivered if we remain tied up in old ways of working,” Dhaliwall said: “Keith has vision! Hope we see similar actions in Canada.”

Robbie Turner, RPS director for England, said: “We welcome the new focus from NHS England on medicines safety and quality and look forward to working with them on this with colleagues from across the profession. We are confident that pharmacists in every sector will continue to work their hardest for their patients and deliver quality services wherever they practise.

“At our annual conference this week, the audience welcomed comments by the minister that we need sustainable funding to enable pharmacy contractors to invest in the future and further improve the quality of their services, but the shockwave that has run through community pharmacy as a result of the reforms cannot be ignored.

“We will of course work to support our colleagues however we can.”

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, Pharmacists respond to Keith Ridge's claims;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20203552

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