Over the past few months, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) have been discussing ways in which we can help GPs and community pharmacists work more closely together in NHS Scotland. We are determined that this work will have a positive impact on both patient-facing practitioners and patients.
Our discussions have centred around the triaging and management of minor illness, the appropriate use of antibiotics and access to electronic patient records by community pharmacists (e.g. the NHS Key Information Summary) to help pharmacists provide better care for patients, especially out of hours.
Both professions face many challenges, not least an increasing workload. There is mutual recognition that GPs and community pharmacists have a tough but vital role in ensuring that the public and patients receive quality medical and pharmaceutical care services in a timely manner. We need to work more effectively together to ensure patients receive the best of what our professions have to offer.
Minor illness management
A priority action is to host a workshop for GPs and community pharmacists on common minor illness that will explore the use of the Situation Background Assessment and Recommendations (SBAR) communication tool as a means to support better management and referral. SBAR is a mechanism that you can use to frame conversations, especially critical ones, requiring a clinician’s immediate attention and action. We will work to develop this as an evaluated project (see below).
Volunteer pharmacists and GPs are required for the joint workshop in Edinburgh and testing of the Situation Background Assessment and Recommendations tool. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about this innovative way of developing further therapeutic partnerships with GPs and patients.
Appropriate use of antibiotics
This year, we will also support the use of the ‘common infections’ patient information leaflets in pharmacies, originally developed for use by GPs. These aim to provide consistent messaging around referral timescales for coughs, sore throats etc, and explain that antibiotics are rarely appropriate in these conditions. By working together and supporting each other’s conversations with patients, we are confident we can make a meaningful impact on inappropriate antibiotic use.
Electronic patient records
We have had frank and honest discussions around the subject of community pharmacist access to electronic patient records, with the input of patient representatives. All agree that the protection of patient data is paramount and that pharmacists can be trusted to manage that data, ensuring patients get the safest and most effective treatments. “Flying blind” while having serious responsibilities for patient care is not something we should accept in today’s NHS Scotland. We will lobby together on this topic and work with patient groups to gain access sooner rather than later.
We look forward to the RPS and RCGP in Scotland continuing to work together for the benefit of our members and patients.