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Independent prescribing ‘a game changer’ for Scotland

Independent prescribing training for pharmacists will be a “game changer” for the NHS in Scotland, the sector negotiator has said. 

Speaking in a recent P3Pharmacy/Numark webcast on pharmacy in Scotland during the pandemic, Community Pharmacy Scotland chief Harry McQuillan (pictured) said the NHS Pharmacy First Scotland service, which launched in 2020, would help to embed a new mindset around pharmacists’ capabilities. 

The service sees pharmacists offer advice, treatment and referral for a number of common clinical conditions, with shingles and skin infections the newest conditions to be added in the coming weeks. The Scottish Government describes it as a “pharmacist independent prescriber-led service”.

Mr McQuillan said: “Pharmacy first gives us the ability to advise and treat there and then. If we move that across to chronic treatment – once you’re a prescriber, if someone comes in with a diagnosis it’s much easier to advise those patients and make any changes that are necessary to dosing or active ingredients.

“I can see that building as the NHS recovers and remobilises after the pandemic… I think it’s a game changer for the NHS.”

He said all 120 funded places for independent prescribing courses have been filled this year, with funding “set aside for the next three years to repeat that”.

“The issue is, are we moving fast enough and have we got the finance and infrastructure we need,” he said, adding that CPS is presenting a case to the Scottish Government for increased investment.

“If they give us a little, we can deliver a lot,” he said.

With the May 6 Scottish elections approaching, Mr McQuillan said the CPS manifesto for the next government was important in setting an agenda for the sector in the coming years. 

Pharmacy First was the result of political engagement, he said, explaining that discussions with the Scottish Labour Party had formed the original “seed” of the service.

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