NHS commissions review of professional leadership for pharmacy

NHS England has set up a “deliberative commission” to review professional leadership for pharmacy, the chief pharmaceutical officer has announced.

Speaking at the Clinical Pharmacy Congress in London on 13 May 2022, David Webb, chief pharmaceutical officer for England, said strong professional leadership needed “to guide, support and enable the transformational change” that is ongoing for pharmacy, including the move to enable every pharmacist to independently prescribe at the point of registration from 2026.

“That’s why the four UK chief pharmaceutical officers are establishing a commission to produce a briefing for the purpose and functions for professional leadership in pharmacy for the future,” he said.

A slide accompanying his speech said the purpose of the commission would be “to produce a blueprint for the purpose and functions of a pharmacy professional leadership body to best develop, support and deliver excellence in patient care and professional practice”.

Webb added in his speech that the commission will ensure “we have the right support in place for the profession, for patients, for the NHS to work with the regulator and government”.

“Not least we will need this leadership to make sure the move to independent prescribing is safe and effective and that everything that will make it so is in place,” he continued.

The aim for trainees to become independent prescribers at registration was first proposed by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and the four UK chief pharmaceutical officers in July 2020, with the GPhC later clarifying in updated initial education and training standards that students starting the first year of their MPharm in 2021 would be the first cohort to become independent prescribers at the point of their registration in 2026.

Commenting on the announcement, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) said it believes “strongly that the RPS is the organization that can set and assure standards of post-registration pharmacy practice”.

“We have already taken a collaborative approach to develop a suite of post-registration curricula across the UK to ensure safe and effective patient care,” the RPS said.

“We will continue to work with the GPhC and others on this developing program.”

It added that the RPS is “demonstratively working across the UK to accredit consultant pharmacist posts and credential individuals on behalf of the NHS”.

“We are willing and able to work with pharmacy technicians to help support their professional development. We believe the RPS is best placed to create an aligned framework for post registration assessment and credentialing of pharmacy technicians working collaboratively with all stakeholders, including [the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK]. ”

Webb was recently appointed as chief pharmaceutical officer for England in February 2022, having taken over from Keith Ridge who had spent 16 years in post.

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