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Harry McQuillan, the chief executive of Community Pharmacy Scotland, gave a lecture last night (15 June) at an event jointly organised by University College London School of Pharmacy, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and National Pharmacy Association. He took as his theme, Community Pharmacy in the 21st Century NHS.

He argued that pharmacy is potentially on the cusp of clinical transformation and looked forward to tech enabled community pharmacies keeping people well at home using prescribed, tailored medicines.  Pharmacist prescribing, he said, would be a key factor ensuring that community pharmacy will remain a critical partner in healthcare delivery.

Harry McQuillan said:

“The main take away message from tonight’s lecture is for pharmacy professionals to really challenge themselves about whether they are focussed on ‘accuracy of supply’ or ‘safety of supply’. For our community pharmacists, it must be about safety, including prescribing and ensuring patients and citizens get the maximum benefit from prescribed medicines.
To deliver this we need to invest in our teams, harness technology and be willing to take the next step in a more clinical future.”

Also speaking at the event, which took place at the prestigious Royal Society buildings in London, were James Davies Director for England Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Catherine Duggan CEO International Pharmaceutical Federation and Nick Kaye Chair of the National Pharmacy Association.

James Davies said:

“It was a great honour to be a discussant at this prestigious event. Community pharmacy is undergoing a professional transformation. The profession is moving away from a focus on the supply of medications towards providing care through services. As described in the RPS Vision for England there is an opportunity for a strong future for community pharmacy, through application of pharmacists’ core skills of risk management, improving safety, driving local health promotion and increasingly through independent prescribing. To make this happen we will need to step out of existing pharmacy structures and work across the pharmacy professions. Something that has arguably been achieved faster in Scotland and Wales than in England. Today’s lecture provided a platform through which those future opportunities could be discussed and shared”.

Catherine Duggan said:

“FIP’s vision is for a world where everyone benefits from access to safe, effective, quality and affordable medicines and health technologies, as well as from pharmaceutical care services provided by pharmacists, in collaboration with other healthcare professionals. Throughout the pandemic, as the lights went out across all our communities in a global lockdown, community pharmacies, pharmacists and their teams remained open providing access to medicines supplies, advice and expertise in all our communities. From the learnings of that time and the visions of our community pharmacy section, FIP is ensuring that community pharmacy continues to meet the needs of patients and the public by providing needs based pharmaceutical care in all communities, nations, regions and the globe.’’

Nick Kaye said:

“It’s time for community pharmacists to step forward with greater confidence into all areas of clinical practice involving medicines use.  The extent to which we are successful in delivering NHS prescribing services will be deciding factor in the future of our sector across the UK.  I am delighted to be associated with this prestigious event, which gives pharmacists permission to remove ourselves momentarily from the day job and contemplate our soul as a profession”.

“Harry’s lecture reminded us that Scotland in so many ways a beacon of excellent pharmaceutical care, even though the challenges there are very real, notably around workforce.  My message is that it’s not inevitable that England’s pharmacies should lag behind our counterparts in Scotland and Wales. There’s nothing intrinsic about England’s pharmacists from a skills point of view that means we are incapable of delivering a wider range of clinical services at scale. In fact, England’s community pharmacy network could one day be ‘Scotland on Steroids’ – an inspiration and model for others to follow, in the UK and across the world.”

Nigel Clarke, former chair of the General Pharmaceutical Council chaired the event, which brought together some 200 pharmacists, students, academics and healthcare stakeholders, to share ideas and good practice.

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