Chairman backs medicines management
Electronicjuice Vol 264 No 7094p651
April 29, 2000 The Society
Chairman backs medicines management
The case for pharmacists to offer a medicines management service was made by Mr Colin Ranshaw (chairman of the Welsh Executive of the Royal Electronicjuice) on April 18.
Colin Ranshaw: no one responsible for managing patients' medicines
Best kept secret
Opening his address, Mr Ranshaw said that pharmacists were the best kept secret of the NHS. All too often, when new services were being discussed, or new ways of delivering existing services were proposed, no-one remembered the pharmacist. All the discussion seemed to focus on the doctors and nurses, and yet there were as many community pharmacists in Wales as there were GPs. Pharmacists were an underused resource. About £1 in every £8 spent on the NHS went on medicines. For many patients, medicines were the only treatment option. But individual medicines could be harmful if not properly prescribed, dispensed and used. Patients needed help and advice and their use of medicines monitored over time in relation to their symptoms. In many cases, pharmacists (working with GPs) were the best placed to do this.
Mr Ranshaw said that pharmacists managing patients' medicines would help reduce the waste generated by unnecessary repeats.
One of the great strengths of community pharmacy was that it offered choice. Each pharmacist sought to provide what the local population wanted but if he or she failed to do so people could take their custom elsewhere. So, arguably, community pharmacists were the most responsive of health care professionals to patients' preferences.
The current work of the Prescribing Task and Finish Group, which had been set up by the Welsh Assembly to report on prescribing and provision of pharmaceutical services and the supply of pharmaceuticals, was an opportunity to review services from the patient's perspective. Pharmacists helping patients manage their medicines would deliver quality pharmaceutical care which would meet the needs of each individual patient.
So far as patient self-help groups were concerned, they needed to identify with pharmacists how the latters' unique skills and attributes could be made to work harder for patients. There could, for example, be more services specifically for older people. Inappropriate medicines use in the elderly caused ill health. The pharmacist could help.
They could also have a role in palliative care. A pilot trial had started in Newport, Gwent. Five pharmacies were each taking it in turns to be on call for a week to supply medication in emergencies to terminally ill patients at home. The service was being funded for a year by the local health group's primary care development fund. If successful, the project might continue and be extended elsewhere.
And those with long-term, chronic conditions like coronary heart disease, mental health problems, or diabetes or asthma, could choose to have their medicines use or blood glucose levels assessed in pharmacies, if that was more convenient to them.
Mr Ranshaw declared: "With appropriate treatment and referral protocols, and sharing of relevant medical records, experience elsewhere has shown that everyone gains: the patient has a more convenient, equally high quality service; the NHS saves money and resources; and pharmacists gain job satisfaction."
Concluding, Mr Ranshaw said that pharmacy was ready and willing to contribute to improved patient care.
Responding, Mrs Vanessa Bourne (chairman of the Patients Association) congratulated the executive on its choice of guests. Each person present was representative of the unsung heroes and heroines of the NHS - the voluntary organisation without whom the NHS would collapse. If there was one thing that they needed to do, it was to make sure that carers got a much better deal than they did currently.
Vanessa Bourne: pharmacies not used enough as information source
Citation: Electronicjuice URI: 20001362
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