Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) president Sandra Gidley shares the changes she would like to see in the sector in the next five years

Last month, Ms Gidley warned that the frozen five-year funding settlement for community pharmacy – agreed in July – could affect patient safety due to increased pressure on pharmacy teams.

Speaking in a personal capacity, she told The Pharmacist in an exclusive interview that many community pharmacists are ‘struggling’ and that some are ‘losing their best pharmacists to general practice’.

So, what can be done to make community pharmacy a better and more rewarding place to work?

Here are the four areas of transformation Ms Gidley would ask for over the next five years ‘if a fairy godmother was going to wave her magic wand’.

1. Prescribing qualifications being more common

‘I would like to see a lot more community pharmacists with a prescribing qualification or being facilitated to [get one] all around the country,’ said Ms Gidley.

‘I think we’ve got a really important role as the experts in medicine and we need to make sure that we are recognised as that. It is our unique selling point and it can be used as the basis for other services [we deliver].

‘There should be a quick and clear path towards independent prescribing that pharmacists across sectors can take advantage of. When we have that critical mass of [prescribing] pharmacists, we’ll see more services being commissioned.’


2. More services

‘I would also like to see a pharmacy as a place where people actually go for proper health advice and support,’ she continued.

‘There’s no reason at all why community pharmacists couldn’t be running diabetes clinics, asthma clinics and all the rest of it.’


3. An end to self-checking

Ms Gidley said: ‘The days of standing and checking I hope would have come to an end. It is scandalous that pharmacists are being used almost solely as checking technicians in some environments.’


4. Referrals to GPs and social prescribers

‘I think this is coming up, but I’d also like to see pharmacists able to directly refer to GPs and properly plugged into social prescribing networks as well,’ said Ms Gidley.

‘If we were able to refer patients to somebody who could put them in touch with a couple of groups or something that they might really like, that does an awful lot for people’s wellbeing and consequently their health.’

She added: ‘Simply, I would like to see [community pharmacists] prescribing, [working as] real effective members of the multi-disciplinary team and the end of the checking bench.’