The Scottish government's plan for patients to register with a named pharmacist is "the wrong move" that will prevent patients from deciding where they receive care, Celesio UK managing director Cormac Tobin has warned.
The Scottish government's 10-year vision for pharmacy, published last month (September 19), called for patients to have a closer relationship with their pharmacist by registering with one individual.
But it was "not acceptable" to control how patients received their pharmaceutical care, said Mr Tobin - who took the helm of Lloydspharmacy's parent company in March - at the Pharmacy Show in Birmingham on Monday (September 30).
"The patient must have the right to choose where they want to go. It has to be the authority of the individual" Cormac Tobin, managing director, Celesio UK
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"The freedom has always got to be with the patient and no one else. If you take that away you're a fool," he said during a debate on whether pharmacy was fit for purpose between leaders of the large multiples.
"The patient must have the right to choose where they want to go, when they want to go and who they go to. It has to be the authority of the individual," he said. However, some parts of vision were wonderful, he added.
Mr Cormac joined Boots and Rowlands in cautiously welcoming the Scottish government's overall plans for pharmacists to take on more of a clinical role in the NHS, which includes all pharmacists becoming NHS-accredited clinical pharmacist independent prescribers by 2023. But more details about how it would work in practice were needed, they said.
Boots superintendent pharmacist Steve Banks said the report offered an opportunity for the sector, but more work needed to be done to decide how the report's recommendations to separate medicines supply from clinical services could be implemented without making it more complicated for patients.
"From a patient care point of view, how do you make sure the supply of medicines, and the clinical knowledge that comes with that, remains joined up?" he asked.
Rowlands Pharmacy national clinical liaison manager Liz Stafford said that, even if the plans went ahead, community pharmacists would still be "pivotal" for delivering advice and services to patients who visited the pharmacy to collect their medicine.
"I don't necessarily see it as black and white, where community pharmacy only does supply and nothing else. I think there'll be a mixture of services," she said. The detail of the proposals needed to be worked out before its impact on pharmacy could be decided, she added.
Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) chief executive Harry McQuillan said there was more to be done on the implementation of the plans.
Last week, the NPA, Pharmacists Defence Association and CPS praised the Scottish government for recognising the value of pharmacists' skills. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society described the plan as "unheralded territory".
The vision was in response to the government-commissioned Review of NHS pharmaceutical care of patients in the community in Scotland, published in August, which called for pharmacy to shed its image of providing "a supply function in a commercial environment".
What is more important? A closer relationship with your patients or for them to have a choice of pharmacies?