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Pharmacy consultation skills standards launched for patient-facing practitioners

Pharmacy professionals in England can refine their consultation skills with the help of a new resource from the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education and Health Education England.

The “Consultation skills for pharmacy practice” standards and accompanying tools — accessible at www.consultationskillsforpharmacy.com — were developed in partnership with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK.

The General Pharmaceutical Council is to consider the development as part of its plans for revalidation of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.  The regulator plans for revalidation to begin in 2018, although an earlier start is possible.

Speaking at a launch event hosted by the RPS this week, CPPE director Chris Cutts explained that the resource is designed to enable continuous improvement of pharmacy professionals’ skills. “The future of pharmacy is patient-facing — not for every pharmacist, but for the vast majority it will be,” he said. He added that, although uptake of the standards could not currently be mandated, there is the expectation that they should apply to all pharmacy professionals in patient-facing roles.

Commenting on the launch, GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin said: “Communicating well with patients is a core part of the GPhC regulatory standards for individuals, our education standards and our standards for registered pharmacies. Our planned future reviews of our standards will look at how we can further strengthen requirements in the best interests of patients.”

He added: “Tools like this should be part of any professional’s continuing professional development, and the GPhC will monitor the success of initiatives like this to consider further what role they could play in a new framework of assessment of continuing fitness to practise.”

Clare Howard, deputy chief pharmaceutical officer at NHS England, told participants at the launch event that the standards fit in well with NHS England’s ambitions to develop the role of the pharmacy team as personalised care-givers. “We won’t deliver all of the opportunities we have around medicines optimisation if we don’t have pharmacists who are skilled at talking to patients … and engaging them so they use their medicines well and live the healthiest lives that they can.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.11136112

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