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Prescribers ask for post-nominals to reflect their status

By News team

Fewer than one in nine pharmacists believe that their colleagues and patients understand the meaning of post-nominals that denote supplementary and independent prescriber status, according to the results of a survey revealed to The Journal.

Furthermore, over 80 per cent of the 284 respondents believe that the Royal Pharmaceutical Society should recognise the additional training and qualifications obtained by pharmacist prescribers through the formal approval of standardised post-nominals.

Out of 12 suggested post-nominals, the ones that were most popular were "MRPharmS IP" (35 per cent) for those who are a member of the RPS and "PharmIP" (18 per cent) for those who are not.

Just under 65 per cent of respondents to the survey, which was carried out via Survey Monkey between September and October last year, were pharmacist prescribers. Of these, 60 per cent said they do not currently use any form of post-nominal to indicate they are prescribers.

Around half of respondents (50.7 per cent) said that authorised post-nominals would demonstrate their professional status to other healthcare professionals. One respondent said: "To have a standardised and nationally-recognised title would be a huge boost for me . . . and would show that the expertise of the pharmacy profession is of a high standard."

However, many pharmacists highlighted problems with using post-nominals; some pharmacists are required to use post-nominals such as "SP" or "IP" to denote their prescriber status, while other organisations forbid such use.

The pharmacist prescribers behind the survey — Hampshire community pharmacist and RPS English Pharmacy Board member Sid Dajani and Rochdale pharmaceutical adviser Keith Pearson — conclude that the RPS should "take a leading role on the issue of post-nominals for registered pharmacist prescribers and act swiftly to minimise confusion associated with the current use of a plethora of terms".

Society is taking action

They add: "A formal approach should ideally be agreed with the General Pharmaceutical Council, and in the longer term other health professional regulatory bodies."

Catherine Duggan, director of professional development and support at the RPS, said the Society is closely involved with ongoing pharmacy careers work and the survey findings are a useful input.

She told The Journal: "Pharmacists who prescribe provide huge value to the NHS and patients, a differential that should be recognised. We know there is a real passion for affirmative action on this and we are doing everything we can to make sure plans are absolutely right for the profession. We know also that these plans need to be delivered in a timescale that means members keep faith in our commitment [to ensuring career support and role recognition]."

Dr Duggan added that it is a "huge priority" for the Society to recognise and support prescribers, including working with other health professionals. "Indeed, we would to want to support more of the profession to become prescribers and seek to recognise prescribing alongside other forms of professional development over the coming year."

According to the survey authors, in November 2011 there were approximately 1,650 independent and/or supplementary prescribers in the RPS membership and 2,612 registered with the GPhC.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 11095876

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