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Medicines in Care – A Strategy for Excellence
The NHS in Scotland has published a strategy document on how pharmaceutical services will be improved across the country in coming years. The strategy covers nine main areas for improvement, with plans and commitments for each. The areas can be broken down into three headings: changes within the NHS and its services; changes in the professional roles of pharmacists, and increased community support in pharmacy.
The strategy recognises increased pressures on hospitals and other services. It sees a role for pharmacists in decreased length of hospital stays, throughput of patients, and in community support after hospital treatment. Pharmacists have unique skills and experience, and it is hoped to broaden their role in multidisciplinary teams to provide effective advice and input. This is equally important after discharge when pharmacy support in general practice and in the community is planned to be widened.
Changes for the Profession
The strategy calls for greater integration of pharmacists in multidisciplinary teams, with an important role in ensuring that care is person-centred and responsive to the views of the patients. Based in GP practices, it is intended that pharmacists with advanced clinical skills can relieve the workload of other professionals by overseeing and advising on medicine management, medicine review, repeat prescription organisation and acting to minimise polypharmacy.
Several projects are already in hand to provide a video link for medicine advice and distant consultation. This is of benefit to people in some of Scotland's more remote and isolated communities.
The strategy, therefore sees pharmacists as increasingly active participants in the clinical team, assisting the overall workflow and tailoring the treatment of the individuals through direct contact and acting on feedback.
Increased Community Support
There is a planned role in improving the standards of medicine management in care homes, with the possible drawing up of specific standards for this. Training for staff in medicine administration and knowledge is a further valuable role. A similar advisory role is seen for care at home, where there can be communication difficulties with the primary team. The need for health literacy and signposting is all important here and can be helped with pharmacy input. A person may feel isolated in their own home with little information if they are not in regular contact with other services. But pharmacists are seen to have a central role in ensuring good information about alternative treatments and resources is available at each point of contact for people in the community. They are also most likely to have regular contact with people to whom they supply their medicines.
There are examples in care homes and in the community where pharmacists are actively involved in care reviews, and their input has been essential in tailoring specific treatments for the best possible outcomes.
Pharmacy is a highly specialised profession, and vital to the correct prescription and administration of medicines. It is good to see the intended changes which will fit in with the increased pressures on health provision and staff, and that the changes are aiming for excellence in how we are supported by our health services.
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