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Strategy for pharmacists in Wales

Politicians in Wales should back a new vision for pharmacy that makes pharmaceutical care a priority. 

A new report produced by the Welsh Pharmaceutical Committee — an advisory group to the Welsh Government on pharmaceutical issues — in collaboration with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) says that patients should each have a medicines plan that can be accessed electronically by healthcare professionals in all settings, and this plan should be managed by a pharmacist.

This is aimed to make the most of over £800m that is spent on medicines in Wales each year.

Over a year in the making, the report, entitled ‘Your care, your medicines: pharmacy at the heart of patient-centred care’, is part of an initiative first announced at the September 2013 RPS Conference.

It describes a vision for pharmacy teams to be integrated within multidisciplinary care pathways. The electronic “pharmaceutical care plan”, a common thread through the report, would be produced jointly by patients and pharmacists and provide an accurate and up-to-date record of decisions about treatment.

In England, the 2013 ‘Now or never’ report was commissioned by the RPS’s English pharmacy board. Independently chaired by Judith Smith, director of policy at the Nuffield Trust, the Commission on Future Models of Care gave examples of innovative pharmacy services in England, highlighted barriers to the spread of best practice and described what opportunities needed to be embraced. It called for pharmacy leaders to take action to address the lack of recognition of pharmacy among policymakers and the public.

The situation in Scotland, by contrast, seems more progressive. The Scottish Government commissioned a review of pharmaceutical care (the Wilson-Barber review), published in mid-2013 and followed up swiftly by the government’s response: ‘Prescription for excellence’. This plan set out an ambitious future for pharmacy, in which all pharmacists are qualified as independent prescribers and patients are registered with individual pharmacists in primary care. Prescription for excellence is being driven by the government in Scotland.

There is no such mandate for the Welsh report. In its introduction, chief pharmaceutical officer for Wales Roger Walker makes clear that the report “does not set out to be a blueprint for the future of pharmacy”.

‘Your care, your medicines’ is to be welcomed nonetheless. It has had the input of multiple stakeholders, including hospital pharmacy, community pharmacy, academia, pharmaceutical industry, the pharmacy regulator and professional bodies.

Moreover, the concept could help improve the coordination of care across care settings. That fits well with the principles of ‘prudent healthcare’ — the strategy being pushed by the Welsh Government to manage the rising costs of healthcare while maintaining quality of care.

This vision deserves the attention of local health boards and the backing of politicians.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.20066795

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