AOP welcomes pharmacy supervision report

“It is essential that optometry works with allied healthcare professions in responding to, and influencing the national policy and legislative agenda,” says the AOP’s Carolyn Ruston

Two female pharmasists wearing white coats in practice

The AOP has welcomed a report detailing the future outlook for pharmacy in practice that was published earlier this month (1 August).

The Supervision in community practice report was released by the Pharmacy Supervision Review Group (PSRG), which is a working group formed by seven organisations across the pharmacy sector that came together to discuss and advise on how community pharmacy is delivered in the future.

The group concluded that public, primary and secondary legislation should be updated to reflect its recommendations that included supervision in a community pharmacy “should no longer be interpreted to mean [a pharmacist] supervising individual transactions.”

The recommendations made through the report address four key legislative areas including: supervision in pharmacies; the temporary absence of the responsible pharmacist (RP) from pharmacies; the preparation of medicines when the RP is not signed in, and the delegation of preparation and sale of medicines to appropriate members of the pharmacy team.

The PSRG working group was chaired by Dr Michael Twigg, associate professor of Primary Care Pharmacy at the University of East Anglia and head of research design and evaluation at NHS Norfolk and Waveney, while the secretariat was provided by the AOP’s policy director, Carolyn Ruston.

Commenting on the recommendations, Rushton highlighted: “The recommendations brought forward by the group will ensure the skills of the community pharmacy workforce is maximised to guarantee improved patient outcomes, and it’s a positive signal of the role optometry can play in the delivery of extended services.”

Here OT spoke with Ruston about the report and the AOP’s involvement.

What were the main recommendations to come out of the pharmacy supervision review and why are they important?

The report makes a number of recommendations relating to how legislation and regulation in pharmacy practice should change in order to improve both the patient experience and safety, and enable community pharmacy to deliver more holistic and integrated care as well as enabling the use of technology to support clinical practice.

The recommendations focused on the changes necessary in legislation to enable the preparation, assembly, and the sale and supply of medicines to be delegated in defined circumstances under the supervision of the ‘Responsible Pharmacist’ (RP), thereby releasing pharmacist time to undertake a wider range of pharmaceutical care services.

The recommendations have fed into current wider Department of Health and Social Care activity to develop new legislative policy for consideration by government ministers. Following this process, further consultation will be undertaken that will be led by bodies such as the General Pharmaceutical Council, the regulator for the pharmacy sector, in order to shape future regulation and guidance.

When did the AOP become involved in this review and why?

The AOP has been actively working to develop productive and collaborative relationships with the pharmacy sector for some time. However, this has gathered pace in the last 18 months due to the move to an integrated approach to healthcare and the resultant opportunities for different parts of the health system, including High Street primary care services, to work together in a coherent and consistant way to deliver better outcomes for patients.

Furthermore, the AOP had recently completed its response to the General Optical Council’s consultation on changes to the Opticians Act, which reflected similar issues relating to supervision and delegation. Representatives from pharmacy approached me to ask if I would provide some the independent secretariat to the group.

Why is it important for the AOP to be a part of reviews such as this with allied healthcare professions?

Through integrated care partnerships the health and care system is working together in different and innovative ways. Alongside this is the need to move outpatient care and diagnostics out of hospital and into existing community settings, supporting a reduction in hospital backlogs and opportunities linked to a greater focus on prevention. To do all of these things well it is essential that optometry works with allied healthcare professions in responding to and influencing the national policy and legislative agenda through collaboration on consultations, national reviews and information sharing.