The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has provided evidence to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus (APPGC) on the ways pharmacy teams have helped people, particularly vulnerable individuals, during the Covid-19 pandemic and made recommendations on developing the sector.
In a written submission to the APPGC, the RPS set out the areas where it believes the pharmacy sector needs more assistance. These include better mental health support, with some members of staff facing burnout during what has been a frenetic last few months.
The RPS said pharmacy teams need access to good quality personal protective equipment, with staff across the UK continuously exposed to the virus and risking their lives on the frontline.
The professional leadership body also pointed out that government recognition of pharmacy needed to improve, noting “it was disappointing that on many occasions the pharmacy profession, particularly in community pharmacy, was seemingly an afterthought in government planning, policy and communications.”
Another point raised in the submission to the APPGC was the need for improved data and IT to support patient care and the digitisation and integration of care records across the health system as envisaged in the Topol Review.
“Better sharing of patient information has been vital during the Covid-19 pandemic and has highlighted the advantages of enabling pharmacists in all care settings to update a clinical record,” the RPS said.
“Whilst there have been welcome moves towards ‘interoperability’ of care records, there is still some way to go to make this a reality across primary and secondary care.”
It said interoperability would allow pharmacists across all care settings to roll out a Covid-19 vaccination programme and other national vaccine schemes, allowing them “to update a clinical record that a vaccine has been provided.”
The RPS said it wanted community pharmacy to be fully integrated as “part of the NHS family and the multidisciplinary team in primary care” and insisted that empowering pharmacy teams was especially important if primary care networks are to be effective.
“Primary Care Networks will still need support from as many as 6,000 pharmacists in the longer-term, with key roles in delivering service specifications, particularly structured medication reviews and support for care home residents,” the RPS said.