Core Belief: Community pharmacists are clinicians

04 Jul 2017

‘A solution to primary care access, pressure lies in liberating the clinical potential of all pharmacists, especially those available without an appointment, in community pharmacies right across the country.’

Nick Kaye is the Superintendent Pharmacist of S.Kaye & Son Ltd in Newquay, Cornwall. The pharmacy has won several awards including, C&D Finalist 2013 and Pharmacy Business Award winner Entrepreneur 2012. Nick is an NPA national media spokesperson and was elected to the NPA Board in 2014 to represent the South West. 

Today, Health Education England is holding a symposium entitled Clinical Pharmacists in General Practice.

NHS managers, government officials, politicians and we ourselves as pharmacists must be wary of using language that draws a false distinction between with pharmacists operating from GP surgeries and pharmacists serving patients in local pharmacies.

The language of ‘clinical pharmacists in general practice’ implies that community pharmacists do not have a clinical role.

The NPA recently issued a statement of core beliefs, to be a unifying reference point for everything people say and do in the name of community pharmacy.  Amongst those beliefs is that ‘Community pharmacists are clinicians’.

Here are some clinical interventions that have happened in community pharmacies recently (as reported by the NPA in Pharmacy Magazine).  I present them here not because they are unusual, but because they are in fact fairly typical of community pharmacy practice:

An elderly female with a large weeping gash on one shin following a fall at home.  On questioning, she could not remember or account for her fall and admitted having had several dizzy spells.  We referred her to A&E and advised her to be candid about her symptoms, as she would need investigations to exclude atrial fibrillation, TIA, and kidney infection. 

Patient on holiday from Scotland on the Saturday of a bank holiday weekend had left one of her insulins at home. She attended in a bit of a state, having been too scared to eat since she missed her dose.  With her permission, I was able to view her Summary Care Record which detailed the insulin she needed.  Luckily we had some in stock and I was able to make an emergency supply. 

A patient complaining of tachycardia. Examined pulse.  Fast and not normal sinus rhythm. Ectopic beats but no AF. Sent to GP for an ECG.  Returned in an hour with a diagnosis of intermittent AF and started on Apixaban to prevent stroke.

Pharmacist next to small GP surgery – surgery was shut – the patient had an allergic reaction to peanuts – pharmacist stabbed them with an EpiPen – first responder arrived, they don’t carry EpiPens, and the ambulance took 20mins.  Paramedics said pharmacist probably saved patient’s life. 

This is the second in a series of blogs about our core beliefs – those to follow will be written by other NPA members who each have a unique and personal perspective on one or all of these:

Community pharmacy works.

Community pharmacy can do so much more.

Face-to-face care is vitally important.

A pharmacy without a pharmacist is not really a pharmacy at all.

Community pharmacists are clinicians.

Supply and service belong together.

But change is inevitable and necessary.

There is a clear choice of future.

Find out more about the NPA’s statement of Core Beliefs


Author:  Nick Kaye, NPA Board Member, South West