Coronavirus has brought unprecedented problems to the health care delivery systems. The epidemic has placed unimaginable strains on personal and professional resilience, causing it to be pushed to its limits.
The impact has been nothing short of revolutionary. The future delivery of NHS services will never be the same again as a result of these changes. Clearly, the future provision of NHS care will be very different from what it is now. Now is the time for us to make decisions and take actions that will shape the future we want for pharmacy and ourselves.
The pharmacy profession‘s dedication to patient care and the difficult effort and tenacity to keep medicines supply and critical pharmaceutical care services going throughout the epidemic have been sources of immense pride. The commitment to patient care has been incredible, with many in the healthcare community recognizing it.
It’s time for the Department of Health, NHS England, and professional organizations to work together with providers, patients, health care professionals, and government officials around the world to ensure that these beneficial changes to patient care and pharmacy practice are preserved and expanded. We must continue to enhance patient satisfaction while safeguarding the future sustainability of the National Health Service.
As a result, MEDLRN has drawn up some recommendations for the future development of the profession and pharmaceutical services. And we intend to share those insights in this article to draw this to the attention of key stakeholders (follow health care professionals) as well as review many issues and expectations for pharmacy in order to highlight key areas where we think development is needed.
To improve patient care and deliver clinical services, pharmacists must have a valued and supported pharmacy workforce.
During the pandemic, pharmacists and their teams have shown the importance of pharmacists’ unique abilities in delivering high-quality health care.
Pharmacists have been essential in the establishment and staffing of field hospitals, ensuring timely medication access, manufacturing necessary injectable medications, and maintaining continuous care in the community for patients with chronic illnesses. They’ve also played significant roles in research. COVID-19 has depended on pharmacists to provide trustworthy information about preventing, detecting, treating, and managing COVID-19 and its symptoms.
The pandemic has also shown that pharmacy teams can make a real difference in people’s lives during a public health crisis. Teams have helped to set up vaccination clinics, advise patients on self-care, and provide essential medicines to those who are shielding.
We must now look to the future and ensure that pharmacists are valued and supported members of the health care workforce. We must also invest in pharmacy education and research to ensure that we are able to meet the challenges of the future.
Pharmacists and their teams must be able to operate in a secure setting, as well as be safe from threats during public health crises.
Pharmacists and their teams must be safeguarded so that they may continue to offer critical services to the public and patients. COVID-19 transmission must be prevented as long as there is a danger of COVID-19 infection therefore ensuring that adequate supplies of free high-quality personal protection equipment (PPE) are available across primary and secondary care is paramount.
The profession also needs clarity on its role during a public health crisis, as well as support from pharmacy management to ensure that they are able to play their part in an effective and coordinated way.
The pharmacy workforce must be sufficiently staffed and resourced to meet the demands of the future.
Pharmacy teams must be sufficiently staffed and resourced to meet the demands of an ageing population, the increasing prevalence of chronic disease, and the need for more patients to be seen in primary care.
The pandemic has highlighted how pharmacy teams can make a real difference in people’s lives, and key stakeholders must now invest in the profession to ensure that pharmacists are able to play their full part in meeting the future health needs of the population.
Pharmacists must have the necessary skills and knowledge to meet the challenges of the future.
To meet the challenges of the future, pharmacists must have the necessary skills and knowledge. Investing in pharmacy education and research will ensure that pharmacists are able to meet the future health needs of the population.
Complete integration of community pharmacy.
The pharmacy profession has seen some significant changes in recent years, and the pharmacist’s role is changing as a result of these. The pharmacy profession continues to develop new ways to engage patients with pharmacists and their teams, offering expertise in all aspects of medicines, health advice and prevention, addressing health gaps, assisting long-term diseases, and treating self-limiting conditions.
The pharmacy workforce is also changing, with an increase in the number of consultant pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. The way in which pharmacy services are provided is also changing, with an increasing focus on community-based care.
Pharmacists working in the community pharmacy teams are NHS service providers, and they must be supported in the same way as other primary care providers who have been contracted to deliver NHS services.
To achieve full integration, NHS services must recognize and embrace community pharmacies as valued, recognized members of the healthcare system in order to improve patient care.
The development of a new pharmacy contract.
The pharmacy profession has much to offer, but pharmacists are currently constrained by a number of factors, including the way in which they are remunerated, the lack of protected time, and the limited scope of their role. To enable pharmacists to work to their full potential, these constraints must be addressed.
A new pharmacy contract is needed that will allow pharmacists to play their full part in meeting the future health needs of the population. The contract should incentivize pharmacists to provide services that improve patient outcomes and make the best use of pharmacists’ skills and knowledge.
Pharmacists are provided with protected time.
Providing protected time to the pharmacist will ensure they are able to devote more time to their patients, resulting in enhanced quality of care.
The benefits of protected time have been demonstrated during the pandemic. With additional flexibility in opening hours during COVID-19 has helped them to handle difficult queries and allocate work more efficiently. This protected time with limited interruptions will allow pharmacists to address complex issues and prioritize their duties, which should continue.
The development of a national network of pharmacy Hubs.
The development of a national network of pharmacy Hubs will provide a way for pharmacists to share best practices, innovations, and knowledge across the country. This will help to ensure that patients receive the best possible care, regardless of where they live.
The introduction of a career framework for pharmacists.
A career framework for pharmacists is needed to attract, retain, and develop the workforce. The framework should recognize the important role that pharmacists play in meeting the future health needs of the population.
Pharmacists should also be able to obtain additional training for advanced pharmacy practice (i.e., advanced clinical practitioner training). And expert and consultant levels that recognize their existing knowledge and skills and fill any gaps, allowing them to develop into recognized experts in their field and valued members of multi-disciplinary teams.
A new approach to funding community pharmacy services.
There is a need for a new approach to funding community pharmacy services that take into account the changing role of pharmacists and the evolving needs of patients. This will ensure that pharmacists are able to play their full part in meeting the future health needs of the population.
The development of a national pharmacy cadre.
The development of a national pharmacy cadre will provide leadership and direction for the profession and ensure that pharmacists are able to meet the future health needs of the population.
Access to the appropriate mental health and well-being services.
Pharmacists must be allowed to take time to care for their mental health and well-being. All pharmacy businesses must be supported in order to create a culture that is conducive to good mental health and wellbeing. These services should be confidential, easily accessible, and free of charge.
The development of a pharmacy business support service.
The development of a pharmacy business support service will provide practical and financial assistance to pharmacy businesses. This will help to ensure that pharmacists are able to play their full part in meeting the future health needs of the population.
Pharmacy businesses should also have access to better-skilled and qualified staff. These changes will help pharmacies meet the needs of an ageing population, as well as the needs of people with chronic conditions.
The changing demographics of the population are resulting in an increased demand for health care services. The number of people aged 65 and over is projected to increase from 12.4 million in 2017 to 19 million by 2027. This increase is due to the baby boomer generation reaching retirement age.
The number of people living with chronic conditions is also increasing. It is estimated that by 2025, almost half of the UK population will be living with one or more chronic conditions. These conditions include diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and respiratory diseases such as COPD and asthma.
The increase in the number of people aged 65 and over, and the increase in the number of people living with chronic conditions, will result in an increased demand for health care services. This demand will place a strain on the current health care system. In order to meet this demand, it is essential that pharmacists are able to play a more active role in the delivery of care.
Currently, pharmacy teams play a limited role in the delivery of care. They are often seen as dispensers of medication rather than as providers of care. However, pharmacists have the potential to make a significant contribution to the delivery of care.
Pharmacists are uniquely placed to provide advice and support to patients about their medication. They can also play a role in the prevention of disease. For example, pharmacists can provide advice on lifestyle choices, such as diet and exercise.
In addition, pharmacists can play a role in the management of chronic conditions. They can provide support to patients living with chronic conditions, and they can help to prevent these conditions from becoming worse.
Improved access to training and development opportunities.
All pharmacists should have access to continuous professional development (CPD) opportunities. These opportunities should be tailored to the needs of the individual pharmacist and should be funded by the NHS.
A more comprehensive and clinically orientated CPD programme for pharmacists is needed to ensure that all pharmacists keep up to date with the latest changes in pharmacy practice. This will help to ensure that patients receive the best possible care.
In addition to the above, there should be the provision of funding for continuing professional development (CPD). This will enable pharmacists to keep up to date with the latest developments in pharmacy practice. This will help to ensure that pharmacists are able to meet the future health needs of the population.
The development of an e-portfolio for pharmacists.
An e-portfolio for pharmacists will provide a way for pharmacists to showcase their skills and experience. This will help to ensure that pharmacists are able to meet the future health needs of the population.
In order to promote equal opportunity in the pharmacy profession and across all sectors of practice, it is important that all pharmacists have access to the same opportunities for career progression. There should be no barriers to entry into the profession, and all pharmacists should be treated equally.
Improved communication between pharmacy schools and the profession.
There is a need for improved communication between pharmacy schools and the profession in order to ensure that students are prepared for their future careers. This will help to ensure that pharmacists are able to meet the future health needs of the population.
The development of an evidence base for pharmacy practice.
The development of an evidence base for pharmacy practice will help to ensure that pharmacists are able to meet the future health needs of the population. This evidence base should be used to inform decision-making at all levels of the profession.
The development of a national pharmacy data set.
The development of a national pharmacy data set will help to ensure that pharmacists are able to meet the future health needs of the population. This data set should be used to inform decision-making at all levels of the profession.
Improved access to research funding for pharmacy.
In order to ensure that pharmacists are able to meet the future health needs of the population, it is important that they have access to research funding. This funding should be used to support the development of an evidence base for pharmacy practice.
The establishment of a national pharmacy research institute.
The establishment of a national pharmacy research institute will help to ensure that pharmacists are able to meet the future health needs of the population. This institute should be responsible for conducting and funding research into all aspects of pharmacy practice.
A review of future pharmacy education.
A review of pharmacy education is needed to ensure that pharmacists have the necessary skills and knowledge to meet the future challenges of healthcare. The review should consider the changing needs of society and the evolving role of the pharmacist.
The development of a pharmacy workforce plan and integration with the NHS long term plan
The development of a national strategy for pharmacy workforce planning is needed to ensure that pharmacists are able to meet the future health needs of the population and the expectations set out in the NHS long term plan. This strategy should be developed in consultation with all stakeholders, including employers, employees, and education providers.
In order to attract and retain a high-quality workforce, it is important that pharmacists have access to improved working conditions. This will help to ensure that pharmacists are able to meet the future health needs of the population.
Furthermore, it is important that pharmacy students also have access to improved pay and conditions. This will help to ensure that pharmacists are able to meet the future health needs of the population.
Creating an integrated and connected pharmacy workforce to improve patient care
The pharmacy profession should work together with other health professions to create an integrated and connected workforce. This will help to ensure that pharmacists are able to meet the future health needs of the population.
The pharmacy profession should therefore continue to embrace digital solutions to improve patient care. In particular, pharmacists should focus on developing their skills in data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI). These skills will be essential in the future as we strive to meet the ever-changing needs of patients.
In addition to the above, COVID-19 has further emphasized the benefits of technology in delivering timely, safe, and effective pharmaceutical care to patients. Digital health care solutions have become more important in managing demand, meeting patient needs, and providing choice and safety for patients.
However, to realize the advantages of these digital changes, healthcare providers must improve integration and interoperability across settings: from general practice to hospitals and community pharmacies. This integration will allow for the sharing of data and knowledge, which is essential for providing safe and effective care.
Pharmacies should be able to access more, better technology and processes at a faster rate.
Where it is not already in place, the following should be rolled out: (1) Electronic prescriptions services in primary and secondary care; (2) electronic repeat dispensing when electronic prescription transfers are available. And (3) in hospitals and care homes, electronic prescribing and medicines administration (H/EPMA) systems should be fully integrated with pharmacy stock control and dispensing systems; (4) pharmacists in all care settings must have read and write access to a complete and integrated electronic patient record
Furthermore, pharmacists in all care settings must be able to use virtual consultation technologies and equipment.
The use of these digital solutions will help to improve patient care and safety, the carbon footprint as well as the efficiency of the pharmacy workforce.
It is clear that the pandemic has had a major impact on the way in which healthcare is delivered. It has also highlighted the importance of technology in improving patient care. The pharmacy profession must therefore embrace digital solutions to meet the future challenges of healthcare.
We understand that these technologies are not always suitable for everyone and should be used in addition to, rather than instead of, conventional face-to-face care. To balance access and avoid widening health disparities, service delivery must be flexible.
Consent for pharmacy services
A single, comprehensive framework for consent for pharmaceutical services must be developed and implemented. For example, instead of signing for each service, patients should only have to consent once.
Implied or opt-in models for consent are required to underpin the benefits of virtual technology. Written permission or wet signatures might be a roadblock to new technologies and timely access to pharmacists’ services, particularly in cases where different consents are necessary for various services.
Informed consent is vital for all health care interventions. However, the process of obtaining consent can be challenging, particularly when patients are vulnerable or have complex needs.
There are many potential barriers to obtaining informed consent, such as language barriers, literacy levels, and cognitive impairment. In these cases, it may be necessary to use an interpreter or to provide written information in multiple languages.
It is also important to ensure that patients understand the nature of the proposed intervention and the risks and benefits involved. This information must be presented in a way that is understandable for the patient.
However, the development of a single, comprehensive framework for consent would improve access to care and reduce the burden on both patients and healthcare professionals.
Providing pharmacists with the tools, they need to improve patient care.
Other healthcare professionals have collaborated with pharmacists in order to improve patient care. To ensure that patients benefit from more innovative and efficient methods of working across the NHS, lessons must be learned from COVID-19. It’s also been a chance to tackle old bureaucratic problems that had held back pharmacy’s development.
All patient-facing pharmacists must be given the tools, which may include funding to university places, and access to a designated prescribing practitioner to become independent prescribers.
This will enable pharmacists to play a more active role in patient care, including the management of long-term conditions and the provision of minor ailment services.
Pharmacists as independent prescribers
Pharmacists have a distinct set of abilities and expertise. Pharmacists are trained as scientists and clinicians with a deep understanding of medications, making them ideal to be all trained as independent prescribers. Pharmacist independent prescribers may independently prescribe for any disease within their clinical competence, providing new ways of working and increasing capacity and access for patients to high-quality care.
Pharmacists who are independent prescribers should be accessible in all types of care to support person-centred care, enhance medicines outcomes, and increase the system’s capacity. To realize the broad impact of this change, infrastructure must be in place to enable pharmacist prescribing in practice as part of a multi-disciplinary team.
Changes in pharmaceutical legislation must allow pharmacists to exercise their professional judgment to improve patient care.
Ammendents such as the quantity, strength, formulae or generic versions of the same drug (generic substitution) are already common practice for pharmacists in secondary care and across all care settings in Scotland. Therefore pharmacists in all care settings in England, including community pharmacies, should also be able to update prescriptions in the event of medicine being unavailable.
Pharmacists and their staff must be able to contribute to attempts to reduce health disparities, including personalized messages to local populations.
Pharmacists are in a key position to influence and support people to make healthy choices and adopt healthier lifestyles. They are able to signpost patients to other services, such as smoking cessation classes or weight-loss clubs. Pharmacists can also provide health promotion materials and advice on how to lead a healthier life.
Furthermore, pharmacy teams may function as champions and play an active part in breaking down the physical, social, and cultural barriers that exist within their communities. There is a chance to improve on existing examples where pharmacists provide outreach services in the neighbourhoods they serve. To help reduce health gaps, this local leadership should be utilized and built upon.
When offering vaccination and testing services, the community pharmacy network must be fully utilized while ensuring that it is a secure environment to do so.
The potential benefits of using pharmacists and their teams to achieve maximum access to these services should be considered in any decision to implement COVID-19 population-wide vaccination and testing across the NHS.
There is a lot of potential for community pharmacy teams to grow as healthcare providers and public health hubs. Community pharmacists are already offering NHS flu vaccinations in England and Wales. This should be extended to Scotland so that everyone may benefit from it. The current flu vaccination program might be increased in scope to provide access to additional vaccines, such as childhood immunizations and international travel vaccines, securely and efficiently utilizing trained pharmacists and pharmacy teams.
The role of the pharmacist in research and development
In order to maintain the UK’s world-leading position in life sciences, it is important that pharmacists are involved in clinical research from the outset. This will ensure that new treatments are developed with patients’ needs in mind and that patients have access to the latest medicines as soon as possible.
Additionally, pharmacists should undertake a greater role in public health research so that the findings can be translated into policy and practice to improve population health.
Pharmacists are uniquely placed to provide high-quality care and advice to patients, and their involvement in research ensures that new treatments are developed with patients’ needs in mind. Furthermore, pharmacists should be encouraged to play a more active role in public health research so that the findings can be translated into policy and practice to improve population health.
Although pharmacists at the frontlines of care are ideally positioned to enhance knowledge and outcomes for patients through research and development- rarely do they actually get the chance to combine academic qualifications with providing clinical care.
Therefore the ability of pharmacists to conduct research to demonstrate the value of existing services and products, as well as lead future developments, must be protected. This is essential to allow pharmacists to continue making advances in patient care and contribute their knowledge and expertise to help shape the future direction of pharmacy.
24/7 pharmacy operation
Extending opening times for community pharmacies is not a recent concept. However, it has become more prevalent in recent years with the development of technological advances and changing patient expectations.
Some of the advantages of a 24/7 pharmacy operating with community pharmacists include:
- Convenient for patients who may not be able to visit a pharmacy during normal opening hours and receive access to clinical services
- Reduced pressure on other health services, such as GP practices and hospital accident and emergency departments
- Improved patient safety due to better medication adherence
- Increased efficiency and productivity for pharmacists
- Accessible health care
- The disadvantages of 24/7 pharmacy operations include:
- Increased pressure on pharmacists and pharmacy staff
- Potential for errors due to fatigue
- Higher running costs
The future for pharmacists
The future of pharmacists is bright. With a shortage of doctors, as the population continues to grow and age with disease, a pharmacist’s role will only continue to grow in importance.
However, pharmacists will be required to up-skill and quickly adapt to the needs of their patients by becoming more involved in patient care and health education, creating personalized treatment plans, consulting with other healthcare practitioners as needed and taking an active role in diagnosing and managing the disease.
To prepare yourself for the future as a pharmacist, you need to develop your skills. These skills can be clinical side or entrepreneur side. MEDLRN helps pharmacists who want to develop themselves.