The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Sandra Gidley has said it would be “nothing short of a scandal” if health services did not make best use of pharmacists, in particular by facilitating projects through the Pharmacy Integration Fund (PhIF)

Sandra Gidley, RPS English Pharmacy Board chair

Ms Gidley, chair of the RPS English Pharmacy Board, made the remarks during a speech to the Westminster Health Forum on Tuesday 16 January. She said that while efforts to integrate pharmacy with wider health services through PhIF have proven to be “great for patients” and helped reduce demand for hospital services, “examples of integrated practice are unfortunately too few.”

Ms Gidley said: “We know that many of our members are already involved in helping to spread innovative practice and the Pharmacy Integration Fund has huge potential to further support patient access to pharmacist expertise across all care settings. 

“For example, referral to pharmacy schemes have been shown to reduce prescribing errors, ensure better value from medicines and reduce readmissions to hospital. Patients who are lucky enough to be in areas already providing this service have less chance of being readmitted to hospital if their community pharmacist is provided with information about changes to their medicines. This is great for patients and will also help reduce the numbers of people needing overstretched hospital services.

Examples still too few

“However, examples of integrated practice are still unfortunately too few, when the Fund could be used to spread them more widely.

Ms Gidley said that although the RPS recognises “various factors” have delayed some projects supported by PhIF, “it is now more important than ever to make the most of the pharmacy profession, in all settings, to support patient care.” She added that the Society expects to see increased roll out of projects supported by PhIF in 2018 and beyond – “a sentiment I know is echoed across the political parties”. 

“At a time when the NHS is facing pressures like never before it will be nothing short of a scandal if we don’t make the best use of the clinical skills of frontline pharmacists,” she concluded.

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