Informing the future

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Informing the future

Lessons learnt throughout the Covid-19 pandemic have the potential to shape the future of pharmacy for the better

Sustained progress is being made in the fight against Covid-19, with the numbers of reported cases and deaths having dropped significantly in the last few weeks. There are still intense pressures and countless obstacles to overcome, but there is also an air of optimism and attention is gradually turning to the future. This is seen by many pharmacy bodies as a time to analyse the situation, foster cross-sector thinking and plan for a desirable future for community pharmacy.

To this end, on 9 June, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) held a summit, bringing together more than 30 NHS and pharmacy organisations from across the UK. The summit discussed the findings of an RPS survey issued as part of a call for evidence to inform the future of pharmacy practice.

The virtual round-table event, entitled Moving pharmacy forward with purpose and pace, offered an opportunity to share initial thoughts, look ahead to cross-sector working and examine how the lessons learnt so far from the pandemic might be used in fighting Covid-19 in the immediate future, as well as improving patient care longer term.

Welcoming change

Prior to the summit, Claire Anderson, chair of the RPS in England, highlighted the need to assess the changes in community pharmacy practice resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic – whether that was new systems being put in place or old systems being adapted – and to consider their benefits going forwards.

“Many of those responding to our recent survey welcomed changes in systems to be more flexible, better coordination and communication across primary care, and improved access to information on patient records,” Ms Anderson said. “There shouldn’t be a rush to reintroduce everything without asking what’s important. Some things that have changed will need a proper assessment on how they’ve impacted patient care, such as the numbers of people having supervised consumption, and the use of monitored dosage systems.”

Desires and disappointment

Initial results from the RPS survey advocated the better use of pharmacists’ clinical expertise and positive new ways of working seen during the Covid-19 pandemic. There was also a desire to see the further development of pharmacy’s digital infrastructure to improve access to information and enable remote consultations when needed. However, widespread disappointment about the lack of recognition for pharmacy teams as part of the NHS was another key theme.

The RPS has committed to taking the views and opinions from its survey, summit and upcoming virtual engagement events over the coming weeks and using them to shape the agenda for pharmacy in the months and years ahead.

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