Scotland won’t sit on its pharmacy laurels

06 Jun 2019

By Phil Galt, NPA board member

Scotland is a good news story for community pharmacy and we’ve seen many positive developments in pharmacy practice across the network here.

When the NPA board came to Edinburgh in May, to discuss the things that matter most to the association’s members in Scotland, I confess to feeling rather proud about Scottish pharmacy’s many achievements.

Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, Professor Rose Marie Parr, attended our meeting and was once again very clear that pharmacy is a key partner in delivering NHS care in the community. Rose Marie is a force for good in the health & social care system and we eagerly look forward to her joining the panel at the next NPA conference, in Manchester.

Community Pharmacy Scotland was represented by Matt Barclay, who also looked forward to a ‘bright future for community pharmacy in Scotland’ based on the shared vision encapsulated in the Achieving Excellence strategy and the CPS manifesto.

It’s sometimes said south of the border that Scotland is a model that others should follow – in terms of the far-sightedness of the agenda here and also the constructive tone in which discussions are typically conducted between government, NHS and the pharmacy sector.

Certainly some of the things pharmacy leaders hanker for in England are long established in Scotland – notably a clear and agreed vision for community pharmacy within the NHS. Scotland’s Achieving Excellence Strategy, and in particular the Pharmacy First concept, is very much in line with the NPA’s view of community pharmacies as people’s front door to health care and healthy living.

Meanwhile, the constructive spirit in which recent talks about funding have been conducted is to be applauded.

All this hasn’t come easy, it hasn’t come quick and it mustn’t be taken for granted.

The Scottish Government, Community Pharmacy Scotland and others have worked hard at creating trust between them. There has been a stepwise approach to implementation of the service development programme. Vision has been backed up by resources and a sensible deployment of the levers available. It has taken years, not days and weeks to reach this position.

Not everything is in place.  For example IT connectivity, including access to patient records.  Furthermore, in Scotland we share many of the same challenges that pharmacies face across the UK – a tight public purse, ever increasing demand for health care, volatile supply and the uncertainties of Brexit and FMD. Pharmacies here, as much as elsewhere, are still too much at the mercy of factors beyond their control, such as medicines price hikes.

And in any event, we should see change and improvement as a never-ending duty upon us all.

So we can’t afford to rest on our laurels and the work continues.

Listen to what Matt Barclay had to say here: