The chief executive of Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) has called on the community pharmacy profession to look beyond ‘accuracy of supply’ and towards ‘safety of supply’.

Speaking at an event jointly organised by University College London School of Pharmacy, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and National Pharmacy Association, Harry McQuillan set out his vision for ‘Community Pharmacy in the 21st Century NHS’.

He was joined by pharmacy leaders in declaring that clinical patient care would be the future of community pharmacy and that pharmacist prescribing, better use of skills mix and technology, as well as advances like personalised medicines, would be critical to achieve this.

Mr McQuillan suggested that in addition to checking that dispensed medications accurately match the prescription, the profession should look towards a more holistic purpose of patient care.

This could mean helping patients get the best out of their medicines and ensuring that conditions are appropriately managed, whilst avoiding as much medicines-related harm as possible.

And he said that pharmacist independent prescribing would be a key factor in ensuring that community pharmacy remains a critical partner in healthcare delivery, especially with advances in personalised medicines.

He said: ‘The main take away message from tonight’s lecture is for pharmacy professionals to really challenge themselves about whether they are focussed on “accuracy of supply” or “safety of supply”.

‘For our community pharmacists, it must be about safety, including prescribing and ensuring patients and citizens get the maximum benefit from prescribed medicines.

‘To deliver this we need to invest in our teams, harness technology and be willing to take the next step in a more clinical future.’

Meanwhile, James Davies, director for England at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), also spoke at the event.

In a statement he agreed that ‘community pharmacy is undergoing a professional transformation’.

‘The profession is moving away from a focus on the supply of medications towards providing care through services,’ he said.

And he argued that pharmacists’ skills of risk management, improving safety, driving local health promotion and increasingly independent prescribing gave the sector an opportunity for ‘a strong future’.

But he said that to make this happen, pharmacy teams needed to step out of existing pharmacy structures and work across the pharmacy professions, which he said had ‘arguably been achieved faster in Scotland and Wales than in England’.

Nick Kaye, chair of the National Pharmacy Association, who also spoke at the event, said afterwards that the lecture was a reminder that Scotland was ‘in so many ways a beacon of excellent pharmaceutical care’, despite challenges such as workforce.

He said: ‘It’s not inevitable that England’s pharmacies should lag behind our counterparts in Scotland and Wales.

‘There’s nothing intrinsic about England’s pharmacists from a skills point of view that means we are incapable of delivering a wider range of clinical services at scale.

‘In fact, England’s community pharmacy network could one day be “Scotland on Steroids” – an inspiration and model for others to follow, in the UK and across the world.’

And Catherine Duggan, chief executive of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) said that FIP’s vision was ‘for a world where everyone benefits from access to safe, effective, quality and affordable medicines and health technologies, as well as from pharmaceutical care services provided by pharmacists, in collaboration with other healthcare professionals’.

The event took place in the Royal Society buildings in London, and was chaired by Nigel Clarke, former chair of the General Pharmaceutical Council and attended by around 200 pharmacists, students, academics and healthcare stakeholders.

Yesterday health secretary Steve Barclay outlined his commitment to investing in technology, preventing ill health, and supporting innovation such as personalised medicines in a speech at the NHS Confed Expo.