Pharmacist independent prescribers must be better utilised within healthcare systems, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has said.

Today (27 April), the RPS published a list of recommendations that collectively urge governments and healthcare bodies in the UK to better integrate pharmacist independent prescribers (PIPs) within multidisciplinary teams.

This will help to ‘expand patient access to care, create capacity in the health care system and improve individual health outcomes’, the body said.

It added that the role of PIPs had become ‘increasingly important in the delivery of high-quality clinical care’ but opportunities to use their skills had not yet been ‘fully realised’.

The RPS suggested that the ‘right infrastructure, systems and tools’ should be established to ‘enable patients to benefit from PIPs as part of routine care’.

It also recommended that the workforce of highly trained PIPs needed to work routinely as part of multi-professional teams in all healthcare settings should be developed.

The final recommendation pushes for ongoing professional development for PIPs and expanding their role in teaching and peer support.

Lack of opportunities

Commenting on the recommendations, Elen Jones, RPS director for Wales said: ‘We're committed to highlighting best practice to help our members develop their prescribing skills.

‘Non-medical prescribing was introduced in the UK some 30 years ago, but many pharmacists who trained as prescribers have been unable to use their qualification because opportunities to do so aren’t available.’

She added: ‘During the pandemic, there has been much innovative service design and we want to see healthcare systems build on this and review their service configurations to include PIPs to make the most of their professional skills.

‘It’s vital that more patient-facing pharmacists have the opportunity to become prescribers too so that patients can get the care they need from a medicines expert, whether that’s in a specialist clinic in secondary care, in their local community pharmacy or even in their own home.’

Formal career pathway Both RPS Wales and Community Pharmacy Wales (CPW) have also called for an increased focus on independent prescribing in their manifestos published ahead of the Senedd election on 6 May.

CPW urged the next Welsh Government to ensure there is at least one independent prescriber in each pharmacy across the country by 2030, while RPS Wales called for further integration of pharmacist independent prescribing into ‘routine NHS care’.

Meanwhile, in August last year, the Scottish Government announced it would launch a formal career pathway designed to boost independent prescriber numbers in community pharmacy.