Posted by: Sophie Khatib12 JAN 2013
Think about the last time that you went to the doctors. Did you come out holding that magic FP10? Chances are, if you didn’t, you may have felt that you hadn’t been taken seriously or your expectations of the consultations were not met.
I think a lot of this is because over the last few years, medicines have been prescribed too easily. I don’t think that other ways of addressing health problems are always addressed during a consultation and this is for a number of reasons.
Prescribers are ideally placed to deliver this information while patients are sat in front of them WANTING to discuss a medical condition.
A patient comes into an appointment with previously undiagnosed hypertension. Now I appreciate that if the patient’s blood pressure is very high, pharmacological intervention is necessary to reduce the BP as quickly and effectively as possible. But is this patient always counselled about diet and exercise: alternative ways of naturally lowering her BP? Is this the role of the pharmacist?
I think that pharmacy has a huge role to play here, but I also think we need more information to be able to help patients effectively. How do we know when a patient has got a slightly elevated cholesterol level? Or a strong family history of cardiovascular disease? It would be great if there was an agreed format for pharmacists to know this information – a print out of basic data from the GP, kind of like a prescription, but with information such a BP, biochemistry results etc. At University, we have multiple lectures on blood biochemistry and those drugs that cause high sodium, low potassium etc – it would be great if we could utilise this information in community as well as hospital pharmacy. All of this would help us to help the patient and possibly reduce the number of patients having to take unnecessary drugs, reducing side effects and increasing the health of the public. Health promotion, just with a little help! It would then be easy to train up technicians so that it could be a PHARMACY run service, rather than a PHARMACIST run service, because surely, we have to make the most of the invaluable support staff in pharmacy. What excuse could there then be not to implement it in every pharmacy – no massive increase in the workload of the pharmacist, but increased information leading to better healthcare. Not only would this raise the profile of pharmacy, but also widen the job role of those all important pharmacy technicians, with increasing job satisfaction. As always, technicians would be able to refer to the pharmacist when they were out of their area of competency.
Who would be up for this? I certainly would!