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Think tank: Pharmacists should be trained on antimicrobial resistance

Training would help pharmacists manage patients’ expectations on use of antibiotics

Community pharmacists have a role to play in the fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR) but need “ongoing training and skills-building” to fulfil it, a think tank has said.

The use of point-of-care testing (PoCT) diagnostics in community pharmacy could “improve antibiotic stewardship and relieve pressure from GPs”, British public services think tank Reform said in a report published last month (September 18).

PoCT is already being used in some community pharmacies. As part of NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I)’s urinary tract infection (UTI) pilot last year, 38 pharmacies offered a free at-home urine test kit to patients with UTI symptoms. Under the pilot, patients were encouraged to return to the pharmacy for a consultation to help them analyse the results.

Clinical skills training

However, if a PoCT model like the one trialled by NHSE&I were to be expanded, community pharmacists would need training to help them understand “the different tests available, collect specimens, interpret contradictory results and appropriately triage patients”, according to the think tank.

Community pharmacists would also need “ongoing training and skills-building” to manage patients’ expectations about the use of antibiotics and educate them on how to prevent infections.

“A training programme focused on PoCT diagnostics, antimicrobial stewardship and communication skills on antibiotic use could help achieve this,” Reform said.

The use of PoCT can help clinicians understand when antibiotics are necessary, Reform said, calling on NHSE&I to commission a “national assessment of point-of-care-diagnostics”.

Antimicrobial stewardship is one of the criteria in the second part of the Pharmacy Quality Scheme (PQS), which formally goes live today (October 1).

Pharmacy contractors who meet this PQS domain will need to show that both registered and non-registered pharmacy professionals working at their premises have completed the Public Health England Antimicrobial stewardship for community pharmacy e-learning and e-assessment.

An antimicrobial stewardship action plan for the pharmacy should also be available “at premises level”, according to the PQS.

Will you complete the PQS criterion on antimicrobial stewardship?

V K P, Community pharmacist

the prescriber (GP) is prescribing incompetently and pharmacy have to clear the mess up for free. how about nipping the issue in the bud and shooting the culprits that are prescribing the antibiotics inappropriately instead of passing on the buck without the appropriate funding moving with the work. Where the prescriber is not competent to prescribe appropriately, then why not stop them prescribing in the first place. The GMS allows for waste of resources as their funding is significantly higher than the funding negotiated by PSNC. 

Ebers Papyrus, Pharmaceutical Adviser

“Pharmacies can do so much more” we keep hearing this. Clearly, we want to assist but our paymasters refuse to recognise the cost of our core services. As a result, we have no capacity, will and an increasing lack of solidarity with so called experts and negotiating teams.

It’s important to remember pharmacies are small teams (made even smaller by cuts) which are already burdened by an ever-increasing mountain of bureaucracy, regulation and workload. When you factor in the ongoing struggle to meet costs this is both demoralising and immoral.

 When this is recognised and NHS England invest to drive change rather than pursue multi directional attrition then perhaps as a sector we can make a success of this. Clearly a collapse of the system is what nobody wants and neither is industrial action in some guise. One of the two is imminently inevitable however due to the complete incompetence and ignorance from both NHSE and DH.

Multi directional attrition can be seen through: Wholesale costs of medicine not reflected in tariff, static funding or cuts for over a decade, annual increased cost base, loss of pharmacists to other sectors (GP and PCN), exponential admin bureaucracy of poorly developed services and form filling, IT inadequacy particularly PMR system development and comm facilitation. Not to mention the non-funded workload which is vital to local communities and hitherto ignored: expert advice and OTC, deliveries, safeguarding, secretarial work for patients and surgeries.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

Oh, and if its of the same high quality training as the bollocks enforced by PQS in which it seems its vital that I know how to bag up soiled bed linen and the role of the CQC in hospitals to increase my infection control abilities, God help us.

Dave Downham, Manager

Tiger sacks.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

The first step is an education campaign for GPs linked to a loss of revenue for failure, in communicating with Pharmacists.

Out here in the real world the chances of actually talking to a GP about an antibiotic choice are vanishingly small and the chances of them listening are considerably smaller.

I have no idea why these people imagine we can do this. In another reality, id love to do it but right now, here, its about as likely as star trek

Benie I, Locum pharmacist

For free of course. I live doing things for free I do. When i do my weekly shop they just wave me through with my trolley and tell me it's in the house. Same with my other bills, life is great.

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