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PJ Online | The Society: How PDGs have moved on

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The Pharmaceutical Journal
Vol 269 No 7226 p793
30 November 2002

Society summary

How PDGs have moved on

Pharmacy development groups have moved on from small beginnings as groups of enthusiasts to provide shining examples of best practice, PDG members heard at the fourth annual PDG conference, hosted by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society on 19 November. David Pruce, the Society's professional development fellow, said that if primary care organisations (PCOs) did not already have links with PDGs they would soon want them.

The aim of the conference was to suggest ways in which PDGs could develop a mature relationship with their local PCO and to explore the present and future roles of PDGs.

The Society's professional development manager, Anne Adams, said that a survey of 28 PDGs in 2001 had found that over two-thirds were either evolving or well established. This had implications for the way in which the Society helped them. The Society had offered funding to help set up PDGs, but this might not be the best support for them in future. The Society needed to hear what were their likely needs in the longer term.

Primary care trusts (PCTs) were not interested in pharmacy, but in what pharmacists could do for patients, said the Society's President, Marshall Davies who is a non-executive director of Newark and Sherwood PCT). PCTs needed to be told what pharmacists could do. Pharmacists had to take the initiative and get known to the key PCT players, including the chairman, chief executive officer and medical director, and also the non-executive directors.

Developing the theme of building relationships with PDGs, Jane Newman, professional executive committee member, Billericay, Brentwood and Wickford PCT, explained that every Essex PCO had community pharmacy representation, thanks to the local pharmaceutical committee (LPC). The LPC had been asked to nominate suitable candidates against a competency framework to represent community pharmacy on PCT professional executive committees (PECs).

The establishment of the Essex Community Pharmacy Practice Development Unit had enhanced communication with the PCTs. Launched with LPC funding, it provided a horizon scanning function and developed projects and bids for PEC pharmacists to present to their PCT when the opportunity arose. In addition, an executive pharmacist forum had now run for over a year. Funded by the PCT, it provided an opportunity to share experiences, gain support from peers and acquire formal training. Each meeting was hosted by a PCT, the chief executive of which was invited to talk about his or her perceptions of pharmacy and expectations of a PEC pharmacist.

The challenge of engaging all local pharmacists in a PDG had been achieved once by paying pharmacists to attend meetings, resulting in a 100 per cent turnout. Other possible solutions included continuing professional development accreditation for meeting attendance, and this was being considered, again with LPC funding.

In a presentation on clinical governance, the Society's head of clinical governance, Catherine Dewsbury, said that patient safety was of paramount importance to PCTs. The quality of services, including clinical governance, was the mechanism by which safety was provided. PCTs applied clinical governance to all health professions, and community pharmacists could not opt out.

Pharmacists could help the NHS deliver on risk management ? a crucial component of clinical governance ? for several reasons. First, medicines were high volume, high risk items, representing about 15 per cent of the NHS budget. Secondly, pharmacists, as experts in medicines, could help achieve maximum health gain for patients. Thirdly, pharmacists were used to managing risk (eg, dispensing checks, intervention monitoring, quality assurance, peer review in medicines information, developing written operating procedures). Fourthly, pharmacists prevented GP errors reaching patients. Finally, pharmacists were used to being accountable for what they did. However, pharmacists did have to demonstrate what they could do.

Continuing the theme of demonstrating pharmacists' value, Kerry Crabb (fundraising and development officer, Pharmacy Practice Research Trust) highlighted the importance of research. The trust helped pharmacists conduct practice research by offering bursaries to cover salary, research costs, conference costs and academic fees. The funding was open to pharmacists who currently worked in community pharmacy other than for large chains. Applications were welcome for taught MScs and research degrees (either part-time or full-time) in public health, sociology or a non-clinical field. Advertisements for the 2003 bursaries would appear in The Journal soon.

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Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 20008302

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