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Impact of pharmacist independent prescribing on UK hospital practice highlighted by CPhO

Pharmacists were encouraged to think about what the profession is wanting to achieve with the advent of profession-wide independent prescribing during a recent panel discussion between three of the UK’s chief pharmaceutical officers (CPhOs).

Speaking at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Annual Conference 2023, David Webb, CPhO for England said that the profession also needs to be thinking about what kind of change independent prescribing will bring to hospital practice from 2026.

Posing the question of ’what will pharmacist prescribers bring to the table?’, he first made comparisons with other healthcare professionals.

’For the medical disciplines, the excitement is the diagnostic chase and then there’s the therapeutic intervention that follows on from that,’ he said. ’From the nursing perspective it’s very much holism and the place of a therapeutic intervention within a wider context of care.’

When it comes to the pharmacy profession, his conclusion was that pharmacists will ’collectively bring a judicious approach to the use of medicines’.

He said: ’I think we might be a prescribing profession that doesn’t choose to prescribe that often because we’re really thinking about the consequence of introducing that therapy and what’s the long-term goal.

’There was something from Chris Witty [chief medical officer for England] today about “more medicines not necessarily being the answer”, and that’s a great thing to take away and think about.

’What is the thing that [a pharmacist is] hoping to achieve through this intervention? What’s the time scale? How will we know when we’ve got there? And will we have the courage to subtract it when it’s not doing what’s required? That will be an excellent part of our professional practice.’

Mr Webb was joined by Professor Cathy Harrison, CPhO for Northern Ireland and Alison Strath, CPhO for Scotland. They discussed pharmacy workforce wellbeing, which Ms Harrison said was her ’number one priority’; addressing health inequalities; and navigating political differences and ensuring collaboration between the UK’s devolved nations.

Ms Strath also shared her thoughts on the importance of forward planning to ensure any developments in the pharmacy profession and in healthcare are fit for the future.

’In 10 to 20 years, what do you think the health service will look like? How do you think will will be delivering care?’ she asked.

With the gradual shift from treating patients in hospital to treating them closer to home, she offered further food for thought: ’How can we shift the models of care and the way that we work together – not just within the pharmacy professions, but across the other professions?’

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