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RPS to develop definition of a pharmacist's role for the public

Most respondents to a Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) consultation on the role of the pharmacist agreed with the draft statement that was published in January 2018, but some raised concerns about whether the public could understand it.

After a consultation period, which closed on 5 March 2018, a report was published that analysed the responses and made five recommendations for amended versions of the statement. Some 70% of the 86 respondents (63 individuals and 23 organisations) broadly agreed with the draft statement. A slight majority (51%) thought that it adequately described all sectors, and just under half (49%) thought that it effectively explained the pharmacist’s role to other professionals. Only 34% thought that the statement would be clear to the public.

The statement outlines five core attributes and abilities of pharmacists across all sectors, and is intended to assist in planning the future pharmacy workforce. It could also support multidisciplinary working by clarifying the contribution that pharmacists make, the RPS said.

In response to feedback from the consultation, the RPS has recommended that separate statements should be developed for professionals and the public. The first of these will be finalised by the end of September 2018 and a public-facing version of the statement will be developed by the RPS by the end of 2018.

This statements should, the report said, describe the core role of the pharmacist in five years’ time, rather than at present, as pharmacy students beginning their degrees now would be expected to register as pharmacists within that timescale. 

Some respondents questioned the need for the RPS to prepare such a statement, given the existence of the General Pharmaceutical Council’s ‘Future pharmacists: standards for the initial education and training for pharmacists’. But in the consultation report, the RPS pointed out that the GPhC’s document does not actually define the role of the pharmacist: its purpose is, rather, to set out the requirements, standards, criteria and learning outcomes for the delivery of accredited MPharm degrees. Although these standards, set in 2011, are being revised, the report says that “it could be argued that the core role of the pharmacist has changed and that these set a minimum rather than an aspirational standard”.

The report goes on to say that “the RPS should articulate a vision for the future role of the pharmacist so the profession can know how best we should select, educate and train pharmacists and plan for the future pharmacy workforce”.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20205285

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