The chairman of the Scottish Pharmacy Board has called for a greater understanding of the role pharmacists play in patient care.

Speaking at the Pharmacy Management Forum in Scotland today along side the country’s chief medical officer, McAnaw says pharmacists have a pivotal role to play in the drive for a more integrated approach to patient care at a local level.

He told delegates in Dunblane: “I am convinced that, as Scotland leads the way in integrating so many aspects of health and social care, we can work across the professional boundaries more for the greater benefit of patients and the public.

“This may also help other colleagues get the most out of their part of caring for patients.”

He added Scotland’s 4,300 pharmacists are more involved than ever before in day-to-day decisions about medicines in communities, primary care and hospitals.

But, he said, there is also an understanding that they will need the right support and working environment to fulfill their professional duties.

He continued: “There needs to be increasing recognition of the role pharmacists can play in Scotland’s health service, managing increasingly complex medicines issues on a day-to-day basis.

“To fully utilise the full breadth of their skills as medicines experts, they need to be able to practice as an integrated part of the healthcare team with the right support being made available to them.”

McAnaw encouraged pharmacists to exhibit professionalism and commitment to their job as workplace pressures increase.

He said: “In our manifesto this year, we called for protected learning time for all pharmacists and appropriate resourcing of new and extended roles, both of which will support the continued competence and professionalism of our pharmacy workforce.”

Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood, added that pharmacists are often the first professional a patient turns to in the community and, not only offer an alternative to a GP visit, but also can spot the signs of serious illness.

She said: “The profession also has a pivotal role in community and hospital settings in addressing the increased use of medicines to treat risk as opposed to treating illness.

“We need to continue to listen to the strong voice of pharmacists in assessing the value of medicines to patients based on whether they deliver the outcomes patients want.”