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The long and short of it can be explored via PJ Online News and the RPS website, which has links to various television news items including pharmacist interviews - definitely worth a listen!
The upshot is that recent GMC research shows that 1 in 6 prescriptions given to patients contain errors- ranging from minor details to severe clinical errors. Although I'm told I can expect to see some prescribing howlers in the real world (when I eventually get there!) I know that the vast majority of prescribers do a brilliant job. These figures sound bad, but we must recognise that doctors are human too, and the ones trained to be experts in medicines...Since checking prescriptions for clinical accuracy and appropriateness for specific patients at the point of dispensing is traditionally the bread and butter of pharmacy, this news is good publicity for a profession traditionally overlooked.
So, its time to get in there, right? Time to cut the nonsense about giving pharmacists a bigger role to play through clinical commissioning groups. It's certainly true that the world needs to know what pharmacists do, but I think at times, that the profession can be guilty of 'bigging itself up' in the wrong way. We're tempted to look at the big picture, and any changes that pop up, in light of how the world percieves the role Pharmacy has to play. The real question, however, is not 'what do people think that we do?' but 'what will we actually do?'.
Neal Patel, a pharmacist and Head of RPS Communications, spoke to BBC News this morning, suggesting a much needed focus shift for pharmacists; away from simply driving down the cost of medicines and towards collaborating with GPs to optomise prescribing for the benefit of patients. I've even heard the radical suggestion that an 'in-house' pharmacist in every GP practice would be beneficial to help patients get the best from their medicines.
It's a wild idea to be throwing around in public, particularly in light of the current political climate, but collaborative working is a great idea - it doesn't take four years of university to work that out!