Royal Pharmaceutical Society Wales (RPS Wales) is consulting on plans for the future of pharmacy in the country, including the establishment of a pharmacy diagnostic referral service.

The referral service, which would see pharmacist independent prescribers (PIPs) leading on requests for diagnostic testing and investigations, has been proposed as part of 16 goals to be achieved by 2025, and now open for consultation until 11 September.

The goals for 2025 also include proposed measures to:

  • Train 50 PIPs each year to become Designated Prescribing Practitioners (DPPs) through an RPS and Health Education and Improvement Wales partnership
  • Train pharmacy teams to support patients in clinical priority areas, including helping to implement palliative care standards, mental health awareness and being commissioned to deliver PREP via community pharmacies
  • Include pharmacy teams in social prescribing pathways, and enhance social prescribing and signposting approaches
  • Have 25 consultant pharmacists in post by 2025 across all pharmacy settings to provide leadership on clinical priority areas in Wales.
  • Introduce medicines related genomic awareness training for the pharmacy team relevant to their practice, which would allow prescriptions to be targeted to a patient’s genetic profile, with 20% of the workforce having undertaken basic training such as through webinars

This comes as part of RPS Wales’ overarching 2030 vision for the future of pharmacy professionals in the country, which was commissioned by the Welsh Pharmaceutical Committee at the request of the Welsh health minister following a 2018 Senedd Committee inquiry into medicines management.

Earlier this month, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association released a report outlining how pharmacies could play an enhanced role in integrated NHS primary care. The report recommended that pharmacies be the first port of call for patients, with pharmacists instigating treatment for a minor ailment, issuing a prescription or referring the patient to a GP or hospital.

In April, a report by the British Pharmacological Society and Royal College of Physicians concluded that pharmacogenomic testing should be implemented across the NHS with pharmacists taking a critical leadership role, which would make prescribing medicines safer and more effective.

The 16 goals set out by the RPS Wales proposals include plans to:

  1. Help patients understand the services they can access through pharmacies, and pilot training for pharmacy technicians.
  2. Train pharmacists in digital skills, diversity and inclusion and Welsh language.
  3. Ensuring pharmacy services are focused on improving outcomes in national clinical priority areas: palliative care, mental health and HIV.
  4. Increasing research collaboration with frontline pharmacists and create a repository of best practice.
  5. Empower leadership, learning and development, by creating career pathways and training opportunities for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.
  6. Use a multi-sector approach to increase the understanding of pharmacy practice in all settings for early year career pharmacy professionals.
  7. Increasing capability and consistency of skills within pharmacy teams, including adopting a Charter for Pharmacy Professionals in Wales.
  8. Establish a network of consultant pharmacists to provide leadership on clinical priority areas in Wales.
  9. Increase patient access to pharmacist independent prescribers, with 50 PIPs each year from all pharmacy settings to undertake to increase confidence and capability in becoming a DPP.
  10. Establish better connectivity between hospital and community care.
  11. Pilot a pharmacy diagnostic referral service, with pharmacist independent prescribers leading on requests for diagnostic testing and investigation.
  12. Continue training pharmacists in technical services such as cancer therapies, intravenous antibiotics and parenteral nutrition.
  13. Embed elements of a medicines genomic plan into pharmacy practice.
  14. Implement electronic prescribing solutions across all pharmacy settings, including supporting patients to access pharmacy services through the NHS Wales app.
  15. Improve reporting of and learning from medication errors.
  16. Increase capacity for pharmacy professionals to spend on patient facing activity by increasing automation in the process of dispensing medicines.

Read the full list of proposed goals and have your say on the consultation until Sunday, 11 September.