The Scottish government is undermining its plans to transform the role of pharmacists by excluding Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) from discussions, the negotiator has warned.
CPS has been refused a place on the steering board set up to implement the Scottish government's 10-year vision for pharmacy, CPS chief executive Harry McQuillan told C+D in an exclusive interview on Monday (May 12).
Mr McQuillan said CPS should be represented "at the highest level", because community pharmacists would be the "main driver of change" needed to implement the government's vision to turn all pharmacists into prescribers by 2023.
At a health committee meeting last month, chief pharmaceutical officer for Scotland Bill Scott explained that community pharmacists had not been "excluded" from the steering group because they would still be able to contribute as part of "working groups" made up of trade bodies.
The steering board, which had its first meeting last month, includes representatives from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and the Royal College of General Practitioners as well as directors from across health and social care.
Mr McQuillan remains concerned that community pharmacists will not be consulted on how the changes to the sector will affect them.
"We may end up in place where no one wants to be [and] we don't advance as far as we could. If it was clearer what that end point was, then [we] may be more relaxed about it," he said.
The government had not informed CPS before it announced last month that it would pilot robotic dispensing hubs in certain NHS boards and this made pharmacists question what else had been decided without their consent, he said.
Harry McQuillan – CPS should be represented "at the highest level"
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Some CPS members were also concerned about the small number of specific references to their profession in the government's document setting out its vision, Mr McQuillan added.
"When you have invested both time and finances into the NHS and you don't see a lot of references to you, that contrast can make you a bit apprehensive," he explained.
In its vision document, published last year, the Scottish government set out plans for all patients to be able to register with a named pharmacist. It would also develop national services for cardiovascular health, care of older people in care homes, alcohol and substance misuse, mental health, sexual health and children, it said.
Last month, the RPS said the Scottish government needed to reassure community pharmacists that they will be included in its 10-year vision for the profession.
What do you think about the Scottish government's decision to exclude CPS from the steering board?