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Scottish government's independent prescribing plan hailed as 'visionary and groundbreaking'

Practice The Scottish government's plans for all community pharmacists to be independent prescribers by 2023 have been widely praised by pharmacy bodies. CPS chief Harry McQuillan (pictured) said the negotiator would work with government to "fully realise the potential of pharmacy"

Pharmacist representatives have hailed Scottish government plans for all community pharmacists to be independent prescribers by 2023 as "visionary and groundbreaking".

The NPA, Pharmacists Defence Association (PDA), Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) praised the Scottish government for recognising the value of pharmacists' skills in its 10-year vision for pharmacy, which also sets out plans for patients to be able to register with a named pharmacist. 

Community Pharmacy Scotland will be working with the Scottish government "to fully realise the potential of pharmacy", said chief executive Harry McQuillan

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Scotland's health minister Alex Neil said that pharmacists needed to use their clinical skills to their "full potential" as he released the government's vision last week (September 19).  

The Scottish government would establish an education and training framework to ensure all pharmacists could become NHS-accredited clinical pharmacist independent prescribers, it said. Pharmacy technicians and pharmacy staff would take on more dispensing to enable pharmacists to focus on providing clinical care. 

The vision was in response to the government-commissioned Review of NHS pharmaceutical care of patients in the community in Scotland, published last month, which called for pharmacy to shed its image of providing "a supply function in a commercial environment". 

The government pledged to ensure patients had a close relationship with an individual pharmacist, by working with patients and professions to develop a framework for registration with a ‘named pharmacist'. This would involve a legislative and contractual framework to underpin the "innovative approach", it said. 

NHS boards would need to have direct relationships with individual pharmacists providing services in their areas. And some pharmacists would become known as ‘general practice pharmacists' by working closely with GPs, primary care, community teams and secondary care.   

"This plan recognises the continuing and important role of pharmacists located in our communities and high streets across Scotland and considers their future relationship with other local healthcare provision," said Mr Neil.   

The RPS described the plan as "unheralded territory" and its director for Scotland Alex McKinnon urged pharmacists and politicians to embrace and support the plan.   


The Scottish government's plans for pharmacy

- Create a model to facilitate clinical pharmacist  prescribers working in partnerships with patients, GPs and other prescribers.  

- Further develop the pharmacist's contribution to the  management of common clinical conditions and develop new models of delivery of primary care services in partnership with GPs.  

- Establish an education and training framework to help pharmacists to deliver pharmaceutical care to patients in all settings.  

- Work with rural practitioners to scope and develop the use of home visits, telehealth and mobile apps to  respond to the needs of different age groups.  

- Develop models to ensure all patients have  pharmaceutical care including polypharmacy/medication reviews where appropriate.  

- Develop a national service for cardiovascular health, care of older people in care homes and at home, alcohol and substance misuse, mental health, sexual health and children.

 Source: Scottish Government's Prescription for Excellence 

CPS chief executive Harry McQuillan said he agreed with the aspirations of the report. Lack of strategy and funding had hampered pharmacist prescribing but CPS would be keen to develop more independent prescribers with the necessary resources. The negotiator would be working with the government "to fully realise the potential of pharmacy", he said.

PDA chairman Mark Koziol warned that the government's plans could cause uncertainty among pharmacists "through fear of the unknown". However he said that the vision would lead to a "much greater professional independence and fulfilment, and ultimately to improved employment prospects for pharmacists as well as better patient care".  

The government said it would produce a detailed work programme and delivery plan for the vision but provided no date on when this would be. 

Can you see any disadvantages to the Scottish government's plans?

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Leon The Apothecary, Student

I love this plan. We should be rolling this out as mandatory throughout the United Kingdom. Make it part of the university course when studying to be a pharmacist or part of the pre-reg year. It quintessentially opens up so many avenues of improving the NHS system in a whole phantasmagoria of different ways.

Eoghan O'Brien, Community pharmacist

Once again, pharmacy in Scotland seems to be way ahead of the other 3 countries. Fair play lads. Keep raising the bar!

Mrs James, Community pharmacist

maybe I should move to Scotland...

Matthew Howard, Community pharmacist

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE bring this fantastic plan to England!

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