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CPhO Keith Ridge praises community pharmacy's Covid response

England’s chief pharmaceutical officer has praised community pharmacy teams for their response to the Covid crisis, saying it was “of the highest order”.

In challenging circumstances “you have demonstrated your essential clinical role in the NHS”, he told today’s LPC conference (September 16), which was being held virtually for the first time.

Dr Keith Ridge warned that the priority now is to remain vigilant for a possible second wave and to protect pharmacy teams and vulnerable patients. He urged pharmacy contractors to offer flu jabs to all their staff members and to sign up to the NHS PPE national portal.

Turning to service developments and the contractual framework, Dr Ridge said GP referral into the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service would be rolled out in the autumn, along with pilots for pharmacy blood pressure testing, referral from hospital for smoking cessation counselling, and end-of-life palliative care medicines supply. A discharge medicines service is due to start in the new year.

Dr Ridge said developments around the initial education and training of pharmacists are being accelerated. For the existing workforce, work is underway on a new educational framework to bring community pharmacists’ clinical skills to the same level, which would include independent prescribing. This would be professionally rewarding for individuals but also benefit patients and the NHS.

Although he was “shocked and chastened” by evidence of workplace inequalities – work on developing inclusive professional practice is a priority – Dr Ridge concluded by saying he saw a “positive clinical future” for the sector.

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