All patient-facing pharmacists must be supported to become independent prescribers, and pharmacists across all settings should have access to virtual consultation tools and equipment, said the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in its latest policy document on the future of pharmacy.
‘The future of pharmacy in a sustainable NHS’, which is comprised of 3 key priorities and 19 principles, draws on the experience of RPS members, patient groups and the wider pharmacy profession during the COVID-19 pandemic to highlight the enhanced contribution the pharmacy profession can make to patients and the NHS going forward.
It maps out key recommendations under three main priorities: supporting and valuing the pharmacy workforce; supporting an integrated NHS; and innovation. The aim of the document is to ensure that the positive changes and opportunities that have arisen for pharmacists during the COVID-19 pandemic are carried forward.
“We’re clear that losing any key benefits to patient care and pharmacy practice that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic is not an option,” said Sandra Gidley, president of the RPS.
“Much of the pandemic was extremely challenging but many positives have also emerged.”
Gidley highlighted examples such as flexible opening hours, which have given pharmacy teams the opportunity for professional development and time to focus on complex queries, and the growth of virtual consultations which has transformed access to care across the NHS.
“We want to see this implemented in pharmacies across the country to complement face-to-face advice,” she said.
“We also want to ensure the NHS and employers provide the opportunity for all patient-facing pharmacists to become independent prescribers. This will make the most of the profession’s unique skills and knowledge, increase capacity in the system and provide better outcomes for patients.”
Gidley said the RPS would work with governments, the NHS, employers and others to ensure the recommendations became the ‘new normal’ across all areas of practice.
“Pharmacy is at an important crossroads and the decisions and actions taken now will be critical in crafting the future we want for pharmacy and our patients,” she added.