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Conference bites: chief pharmaceutical officers session

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Conference bites: chief pharmaceutical officers session

David Webb, chief pharmaceutical officer, England:
The introduction of independent prescribing as part of the initial education and training of pharmacists is “a game changer” for pharmacy professional practice, medicines optimisation and patient care, said Mr Webb.

“The 2,800 newly registered pharmacist independent prescribers due to join the workforce each year from 2026 will be transformational for all pharmacy settings, improving access and quality of care for patients with the potential to improve medicines’ use including stopping medicines where appropriate. This is a really exciting step forward,” he said.

The independent prescribing pathfinder programme, set up to establish a framework for the future commissioning of NHS community pharmacy clinical services, has recruited over 200 community pharmacy sites in England to test a range of clinical models. NHS England will take on delegated responsibility from the GPhC as the Statutory Education Body for the quality management of all foundation year trainee pharmacists from 2025-26.

“We need to work together to maintain the number of trainee pharmacist placements available via Oriole. It is also vital that we bring the cohort of independent prescriber pharmacists into the workforce as planned from September 2026. These pharmacists will enable us to address workforce pressures and meet the increasing demand for healthcare,” he said.

Alison Strath, chief pharmaceutical officer, Scotland:
Pharmacy needs to be much more strategic in its outlook and thinking, according to Ms Strath. “We should be thinking 20 years ahead and then planning backwards in order to respond to opportunities,” she told delegates.

Important issues to be considered include whether pharmacies should have more than one pharmacist on the premises and making better use of data, AI, robotics and digital tehnology.

“Community pharmacies are ‘anchor organisations’ in their local communities but need the supporting infrastructure,” she said. There is also a mismatch between demand and need in the health system, which is why an integrated approach to care involving pharmacy is key.

“Be brave enough to start the conversations that matter and which make a difference, even if they are difficult or uncomfortable,” she said. “It’s about being proactive, thinking collectively about pharmacists’ potential and showing decision-makers what pharmacy can do. It is a tricky time financially but this shouldn’t stop us thinking to the future and planning so we can deliver.”

Andrew Evans, chief pharmaceutical officer, Wales:
Community pharmacy reforms in Wales in recent years including an expanded clinical role for pharmacists have been “incredibly successful”, according to Mr Evans.

 One year on from the launch of A New Prescription there had been:

  • 250,000 Common Ailment Service consultations
  • 85,000 emergency medicine supplies
  • 25% of community pharmacies providing independent prescribing services
  • 46,000 independent prescribing consultations
  • 27,000 sore throat test and treat consultations
  • £28.9m available for clinical service activity in 2022-23.

“We wanted a modern pharmacy service, but one underpinned by the traditional values and strengths of community pharmacy including as an economic driver and a source of social capital,” he explained. It was an ambitious transformation that realised the skills, knowledge and accessibility of community pharmacy, providing professionally rewarding careers attractive to new registrants.

Looking forward, Mr Evans called on pharmacy teams to work together and help develop a shared vision for the sector. “Understand what is important to the NHS,” he told delegates. “Play to your strengths – accessibility, a sense of community and your role in providing employment and resilience on our high streets.

“Raise standards by continuing to innovate. It is important to invest in the workforce and IT, and to make community pharmacy an investable proposition.”

More to follow....



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