The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) Scottish Pharmacy Board (SPB) held its autumn meeting on 26 September 2018 at the Society’s Edinburgh office. Guests at the meeting were Colin Cable, RPS assistant chief scientist; Andrew Kerr, preregistration pharmacist and former RPS student champion; Andrew Walker, lead clinical pharmacist in adult mental health at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and a member of the mental health Special Interest Group (SIG); and Paul Forsyth, lead pharmacist for clinical cardiology (primary care) at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and a heart failure specialist.
Ash Soni, president of the RPS, was in attendance and Paul Bennett, chief executive of the RPS, joined by video link.
The Board welcomed two new members, Tamara Cairney and Andrew Carruthers, who were invited to join to fill two unoccupied positions.
Alex MacKinnon, RPS director for Scotland, said that the recent International Pharmaceutical Federation’s 2018 Congress, co-hosted by the RPS and held in Glasgow from 2–6 September 2018, has grown the Society’s international membership “quite considerably”. The latest attendance figures, Soni said, indicated 3,232 delegates from 107 countries.
MacKinnon welcomed news from the Scottish government that the minor ailments scheme would be rolled out across the country — something that has been a core ask of RPS Scotland’s manifesto since 2016 and that has also been lobbied for by Community Pharmacy Scotland. He was also pleased to see the government’s commitment to the community pharmacy role in care of patients with long-term conditions; something else that RPS Scotland has advocated. The Society continues to push for protected learning time and improved consensual access to, and sharing of, patients’ digital information.
Revision of RPS Scotland’s Care Homes Report will now take place in Q4 of 2018, and a round table on improving the care of people in care homes is being planned for 21 November 2018. This work will feed into the government’s workstream within ‘Achieving excellence in pharmaceutical care’.
Looking to 2019, a joint board day was held on 15 October 2018 to discuss “big issues and workstreams”. The new set of professional standards for community pharmacy will be a large piece of work over 18 months, MacKinnon said, and the RPS mentoring programme will be relaunched towards the end of 2019. The Society will continue to focus on, among other matters, the Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD), Brexit, policy and consultations, local engagement and workforce pressures. MacKinnon asked the Board to consider what other matters are important to Scotland, for consideration alongside these “business as usual” issues.
Common characteristics of high-performing pharmacies
Kerr, a recent pharmacy graduate currently undertaking modular preregistration training in hospital and community, gave an overview of his final-year MPharm research project, ‘Common characteristics of high-performing pharmacies’. This had been sponsored by the RPS and had been completed with supervision from Board member Anne Boyter. From interviews with 14 members of pharmacy staff, including technicians and dispensing assistants, across three pharmacies, Kerr found that although the greater opportunities within pharmacy were welcome, managing those responsibilities on limited funds was challenging. A target-focused mentality could sometimes conflict with the goal of putting the patient first, he also heard.
Good teamwork was held to be the major impetus for best performance in community pharmacy: teams “need trust, no friction, and enough members of staff” to give the best patient care, Kerr noted. Good leadership from pharmacists, “as opposed to just management”, was also crucial. The best leaders were, he said, “a beacon for innovation and implementing change”.
“So many people are doing amazing work and we don’t know; the average person on the street doesn’t know,” Kerr concluded. He suggested that an ‘Innovator of the month’ and ‘Innovator of the year’ prize would be a good way to promote the innovative work of the community pharmacy sector.
Walker asked the Board to consider how it can increase awareness of the work Scottish pharmacists do to support patients with mental health problems: something he said Annemarie MacGregor, who represents the Society on the mental health SIG, had raised at group’s last meeting when she highlighted the English board’s work. Walker described the lack of parity between mental and physical health as a “national scandal”, and said there was “no shortage of things we can do” to address the matter, but that pharmacists’ work needs to be promoted and good practice shared. Aileen Bryson, RPS Scotland practice and policy lead, asked that a plan be developed, which Walker welcomed: what we need, he said, is to take something to the government to assure them that pharmacy can deliver if sufficient funding is provided. John McAnaw, chair of the SPB, added that this could be included in discussions around the new pharmacy contract.
Forsyth asked the Board to think about a hypertension prevention strategy in pharmacy. A recent parliamentary roundtable on hypertension had been attended by several pharmacists, he said, and it is “likely” that the subsequent report will say pharmacists are part of the solution. How can the solution be meaningful and deliverable, he asked? In his view, there is “a need to convince people that small projects can be made equitable across the country.” McAnaw linked the question to the community pharmacy contract. If it is renewed, he said, “I imagine now is the time to be creative in how things like this fit into existing frameworks that are due to be revamped”. It was agreed that Forsyth would come back to the Board once the report has been completed.
Policy and consultations
Updating the Board on recent work around policy and consultation responses, Bryson said that a Brexit summit had been held at the RPS’s London office. The implications for access to medicines, the workforce and science and research were discussed, Bryson said, and Gino Martini, the RPS’s chief scientist, will be following up the summit with a meeting with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
The Society had responded to the government’s consultations on safety features in the FMD and pharmacy legislation on dispensing errors and organisational governance, and to the General Pharmaceutical Council’s consultation on education and training standards for pharmacist independent prescribers.
Among other upcoming activities, the Society’s policy on e-cigarettes will be reviewed, and a science and research board will be established to oversee this work.
- The date of the next Scottish Pharmacy Board meeting was set for 23 January 2019.