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Published on 3 April 2008

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Government publishes UK pharmacy plan

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The UK government has published a White Paper setting out its vision for the future of pharmacy.

The White Paper, “Pharmacy in England: building on strengths – delivering the future”, proposes that a new professional regulator – the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) – is established in place of The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB), which currently serves a regulatory role, as well as being a professional body for the field.

This move is intended to bring regulation of pharmacists into line with that of other clinical professions to safeguard patients and the public and support the strategic development of high quality pharmacy practice.

As part of a drive to encourage the profession to adopt new practices and technologies, the paper proposes the adoption of
decentralised dispensing robots in clinical areas. This, the paper says, would enable pharmacy staff to be permanently based in clinical settings, maximising their clinical input and impact, and improving multidisciplinary communication.

Amongst other measures, the paper pushes for the adoption of auto-identification and data capture (AIDC) technologies in healthcare settings, sets out the government’s intent to commission research to establish the extent to which medicines are not used and to determine the varied and complex reasons why people do not take their medicines as intended, and NHS Employers will be asked to establish a working group to promote closer working between GPs and pharmacists.

The paper also sets out how community pharmacists will play a bigger role in frontline healthcare, working to complement GPs in promoting health, preventing sickness and providing care that is more personal and responsive to individual needs. This extended role will see many more pharmacists being able to prescribe for and deal with minor ailments on the NHS, as well as supporting those with long-term conditions and preventing illnesses through additional screening and advice.

“This White Paper heralds some major changes,” said Health Minister Ben Bradshaw. “We want to hear what people, patients, consumers, the NHS and the professionals have to say. We are therefore holding a series of public events around the country starting on 1 May in London. We will then consult on some key proposals here later this year.”

The Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, Keith Ridge said: “This is a landmark document for both patients and pharmacy. When implemented, it will underpin better care of patients with medicines, will be a major contribution to improving the health of the population and should complete the transformation of pharmacy to a clinical profession.”

Building on strengths – delivering the future (pdf)



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