Separate role definitions should be developed for pharmacists in each of the major sectors of practice, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has said in response to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) draft statement on the role of the pharmacist. “Practise is unlikely to become uniform between the sectors at any point in the near future”, the PDA went on to say.
The draft statement, which was open for consultation between 8 January 2018 and 5 March 2018, was intended as “a description of core attributes and abilities across all sectors”, and to be a base position that specific sectors of pharmacy could adapt and expand upon.
It included a definition of the pharmacist’s role, alongside five core attributes and abilities, including being “accessible to all patients as a source of advice and direction on health improvement and wellbeing” and “educating and undertaking evidence-based practice, innovation and research.”
The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) responded that although the statement appeared to have been written for all sectors, it focused heavily on “the peripheral roles of the pharmacist, such as academia and research, compared to the core roles of the hospital and community pharmacist.” However, the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists (GoHP) commented that the draft statement did not cover the “full diversity of roles, including academia, regulatory affairs, research and industry”, and added that “producing a statement that covers all potential pharmacist roles in all sectors is a significant challenge.”
The GoHP also said that pharmacist roles extend beyond direct and indirect patient care and into “systems leadership, health economics and the managed introduction of medicines into the healthcare system”, and that “many valuable and high impact roles … are not considered or described in these statements.”
Christopher John, workforce development lead at the RPS, has previously commented on the changing role of the pharmacist. He said: “My view is that patients and public will never be clear about our core role until we are. Like medicine, we need an overarching role statement. Then if sectors want to adapt this, and elaborate on it, they can: although the workforce is expected to become increasingly flexible and adaptable, working across sectors in an integrated way. I would add that the core role statement is also intended to support designing the right education curricula and workforce planning.
“For me, the conversation that this consultation has raised is as important as the outcome.”
After all of the consultation responses have been analysed, a report will be published and sent to the national pharmacy boards for consideration as Society policy.