In May 2021, the Welsh population will be given the opportunity to vote in the Welsh Parliamentary Elections, which will determine the political party (or parties) elected to govern for the next five years.
The election could usher in a new political paradigm for healthcare as we know it, as a new Welsh Government will determine the future shape of the NHS and professional practice across the Welsh healthcare system.
At the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in Wales, we are doing all we can in the run up to the election to amplify the voice of the pharmacy profession. Our aim is simple: to influence the plans or manifestos of the political parties to help create a platform for pharmacy.
Our calls to action
In October 2020, RPS Wales published its ‘Manifesto for pharmacy’ to highlight the pressing issues affecting pharmacists in Wales and their patients. It features eight calls to action for the next Welsh Government to implement in order to fully support the pharmacy workforce and enable the highest quality of patient care.
Further integrating pharmacist independent prescribing into routine NHS care is a primary focus. We have been pressing the Welsh Government on this topic for the past decade. As the role of ‘pharmacist independent prescribers’ gains greater recognition, now is the time to push this issue even further and to ensure more benefits can be realised for patients across the NHS, including community pharmacy.
Setting up community-based independent prescribing services and ensuring greater patient safety will require pharmacist access to a shared electronic patient record. RPS Wales called for this in the 2016 Welsh Parliamentary Elections and, while it has been encouraging to see progress with access to appropriate patient information via the Common Ailments Service and Choose Pharmacy Service, greater progress needs to be made.
Our focus on digital developments in pharmacy continue in the RPS Wales manifesto, with a call to accelerate the development and roll out of digital prescribing solutions across Wales. This is not a new issue but its importance has been brought into sharp relief by the COVID-19 pandemic. Safety and efficiency must be improved through the use of digital prescribing, ensuring effective transmission of scripts between GPs and community pharmacy, and across the secondary care sector.
RPS Wales has been acutely aware of the importance of protecting pharmacy staff and supporting their health and wellbeing throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Our call to support the health and wellbeing of pharmacists through access to NHS-funded mental health and wellbeing support has never been more pertinent than now.
We also want to see protected learning time for the profession and new training opportunities for pharmacists in emerging therapies, such as pharmacogenomics — a win-win for pharmacists and the quality of patient care.
Spreading the word
We’ve been advocating our manifesto calls for nearly a year now, distributing the messages widely and speaking to political parties. Virtual meetings with political parties over the past year have shown us that there is tremendous support for the pharmacy profession in Wales.
We have also been talking to colleagues at other royal colleges to identify areas of common interest where we can campaign together. There is more strength through collective action and we continue to look for those opportunities. We are also taking steps to engage with electoral candidates — it is important that as many of those elected as possible are clear about the Society’s priorities for the profession for the next term of the Welsh Parliament.
Join our campaign
Candidates will also be keen to hear from professionals working at the sharp end; therefore, RPS Wales strongly encourages its members to contact their local candidates about any issues affecting them and to promote our calls to action. The Society can support you with this — please contact RPS Wales by calling 02920 730310 for further information.
Pharmacy professionals can keep up to date on our political campaign by following RPS Wales on Twitter and Facebook, as well as keeping an eye out for dedicated membership newsletters. Please contact the Society directly if you would like any advice, support or resources for getting involved in this year’s election campaign.
Ross Gregory, head of external affairs at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Wales