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Demonstrating our value

Following the publication of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society “Now or never” report and subsequent pharmacy “Call to action” it is crucial pharmacists are utilised as professionals to maximise outcomes and help improve and protect the public’s health.

Pharmacists do operate in a commercial environment but this must not lead to commercial pressure over-riding professional decision-making. As with other healthcare professionals, pharmacists go to work to provide the best service and care to the public they deal with every day, whether this is public-facing or being responsible for decisions that will optimise medicines use.

For those in a public-facing role, if this is undermined by an expectation to “sell” more than is needed by customers, this undermines the ability to act as a professional. It is important for pharmacists to be assured that the RPS is advocating effectively on their behalf and is holding the regulator to account for the profession. At the same time there must be an assurance that, if the regulator appears to be over-influenced by commercial expediency, the professional body should and must have a way to challenge decisions on behalf of the profession.

Those working in clinical commissioning groups can be undermined by an expectation to “buy” less. There is a need to see support for decisions which optimise medicines use, rather than simply being judged by organisations on meeting budget targets. As medicines use is improved the knock-on effects will improve outcomes and lead to cost savings in other budgets and these should reflect on those pharmacists who have created this cost benefit. The professional body must advocate for these professionals and ensure they are properly valued within the health organisations they operate.

As the RPS matures as a professional body it is doing more of these things but needs to be better at demonstrating this to its members.

The “Now or never” report highlighted those areas that need a greater focus. The RPS must concentrate on these and commit to showing how it has met the challenges in the report.

When the “Call to action” moves from consultation to implementation, the RPS must be at the forefront of supporting pharmacists as professionals to deliver the highest quality care. This should be through the continuing development of professional standards enabling pharmacists to demonstrate their effectiveness as professionals.

It is important that the elected board leads and drives that process.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.11138183

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