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Patient safety

Striving to improve standards

Here in Wales, pharmacists and other health professionals have been reflecting on the findings of an independent review into the care of older people at the Princess of Wales Hospital and Neath Port Talbot Hospital.

It is fair to say that the ‘Trusted to care’ report, published in May 2014, was a shock for the Welsh public and for the dedicated health professionals who work for the NHS. The pharmacy profession in Wales has not shied away from the findings of the review. Immediately, we focused on what needs to be done to improve pharmaceutical care.

Over the past two months, the All Wales Chief Pharmacists Committee has had many discussions on what needs to change. It has recommended to health boards that they work with pharmacists to:

  • Raise standards: Formally adopt and use the revised hospital standards, developed by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), to inform service improvements;
  • Improve services: Work collectively to describe the benefits and challenges of developing 24/7 access to pharmacy services, which will need to reflect local priorities and strategic goals;
  • Change culture: Listen to and consider the views of the pharmacy team on a range of issues. There also needs to be more multidisciplinary ward-based working with clear roles and definitions;
  • Update facilities: When wards are being refurbished, pharmacists must show leadership to ensure that designs reflect current and foreseeable practice and that automated medicines storage units are evaluated;
  • Revise policies: An ‘All Wales medicines management policy’, with supporting procedures, is currently being discussed via a multi-professional forum, and is aiming to raise standards, ensure consistency of care and foster professionalism. This high level policy could then be adopted by health boards and incorporated into pharmacy, nursing and medical education at every level.

Improving our services and updating policies and facilities are important but we can only make patients our first concern if we live and practise as professionals and encourage a culture of professionalism at all times. To reinforce this message, the Welsh Centre for Pharmacy Professional Education (WCPPE) has produced an online e-learning package on professionalism, supported by workplace workshops, which discusses tricky ethical issues.

By providing guidance, support and standards and practical advice, the RPS has a role to play in promoting professionalism. We can help our members be the best they can be. We also advocate the profession to the wider NHS and patient groups. Our Medicines Safety Conference on 16 October 2014 in Cardiff will showcase the issues of caring for older people and the positive steps pharmacy can contribute to their care. For more information on the conference, please visit

It is never easy to read a report that highlights poor practice in healthcare, but it is heartening to see that the profession here in Wales is striving to improve standards and address the issues of concern. 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 20066446

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