Primary care network pharmacy – making it work
Steve Williams, Senior Clinical Pharmacist at Poole Bay and Bournemouth PCN describes how some critical factors need to be taken into account when planning and organising PCN pharmacy services.
Essentially there is no difference between being a GP practice pharmacist and a primary care network pharmacist
When it comes to determining what kind of pharmacy input a PCN or a GP practice needs, Mr Williams says that the wider picture needs to be considered. “It’s a very attractive proposition to come and work in primary care, whether you’re a pharmacy technician or a clinical pharmacist” but “the rate-limiting step is the workforce in the area – so what is happening is [that] we are at risk of sucking people out of secondary care and community pharmacy”
“If we just suck people out from one area, that’s going to destabilize the whole system” and this has been well-understood by Poole Bay and Bournemouth PCN. “We have people who are who are employed by the community health trust who might do half their time for us but half their time working for the community health trust. We have a pharmacist who’s about to start who’s going to work partly in a community pharmacy and partly for us”, says Mr Williams. In this way it is possible to have a sustainable approach within the integrated care system and to provide job enrichment for the pharmacy professionals involved. He also stresses that it is important to have staff who are not only clinically skilled but also able to manage people and work well in the primary team. “I think that is the key – not [just] numbers of people in the PCN but the right people in a PCN”, he says.
Mr Williams says that he has benefited from a great deal of training in the NHS and 30 years of “doing it and failing and realising that you need to do it like this….”. Looking to the future he would like to share his experience and insights and help other practices and PCNs develop their services.
“We all know that [drug therapy] is still the number one intervention used in healthcare. There are huge potential problems ahead in relation to older people getting more and more medicines [for] more and more conditions and we need to manage that. So, pharmacy professionals working in primary care are an absolute necessity, they’re not a luxury, they’re a necessity. You know the optimal use of medicines is important for [everyone]. …. If we just keep adding medicines and never subtracting, we multiply the problems – that is what I’m trying to sort”, concludes Mr Williams.
Steve Williams MPhil, BPharm Hons, Clin Dip Pharm, Pharmacist Independent Prescriber, MRPharmS is a Senior Clinical Pharmacist Poole Bay & Bournemouth Primary Care Network. He is also the Founder and Director of One Less Pill Medicines Optimisation Consultancy. You can keep up to date with Steve Williams on Twitter.