Date Published: 5 September 2006

Pharmacists with Special Interests to offer care about diabetes, STIs and long-term conditions

Health News from the United Kingdom (UK).

Pharmacists with Special Interests to offer care and advice about diabetes, STIs and long-term conditions on patients' doorsteps. Patients with long-term conditions will soon be able to manage their diabetes or heart disease when they pop to the shops thanks to a new breed of 'expert pharmacists', Health Minister Andy Burnham announced today.

Working principally in the community, experienced pharmacists will now be given the option to become 'experts' in long-term conditions like Parkinson's Disease, skin disorders or by managing medicines like anticoagulation drugs, which help prevent strokes and heart disease.

Pharmacists will have to undergo extra competency based training beyond their core professional role, and become accredited, in order to demonstrate appropriate knowledge and skills before becoming a 'Pharmacist with a Special Interest' (PhwSI).

Once qualified, PhwSIs will be able to deliver more services to patients such as holding specialist diabetes clinics with patients to help them manage their medicines and illness, working closely with other health professionals involved in their care.

Unveiling the National framework for Pharmacists with Special Interests at the British Pharmaceutical Conference in Manchester, Health Minister Andy Burnham said:

" New and extended roles for experienced staff are a key part our NHS reforms.

_ All pharmacists play a valuable role in helping patients manage their medicines, as well as contributing to public health. Pharmacists with Special Interests will give patients more choice about where, when and from who they seek healthcare advice and treatment for things such as sexually transmitted infections, substance misuse and diabetes, or heart attack and stroke prevention through monitoring anticoagulation medicines."

Pharmacists with Special Interests will support the move of patient care into the community as outlined in Our health, our care, our say: a new direction for community services. With the reshaping of NHS services to fit patient expectations, work traditionally carried out in hospitals is increasingly undertaken in primary care settings and in the community.

Those patients who need or choose to see their GP will still be able to do so. Pharmacists with Special Interests are another option, and build on existing practice where patients are already being prescribed medicines and having their long-term condition managed by pharmacists with specialist knowledge and skills. Speaking at the British Pharmaceutical Conference in Manchester Health Minister Andy Burnham added:

" Today, I am delighted to launch a national framework and guidance to support the establishment of Pharmacists with Special Interests.

_ Although we want patients to have easy access to care and medicines when needed, patient safety must always be top priority.

_ This framework builds on community pharmacy's traditional strengths of quality, safety and accessibility by setting out a process of accreditation and competency for pharmacists to help ensure that patients receive the highest quality of care."

National Clinical Director for Primary Care, David Colin Thome said:

" The creation of Pharmacists with Special Interests means that pharmacists can join GPs and other practitioners with special interests in more fully utilising their clinical skills for the benefits for patients.

_ The development of services that Pharmacists with Special Interests will be providing is a key part of reform in the NHS - reform that will offer a choice from an extended range of services more conveniently available to patients and the wider public."

Chief Pharmaceutical Officer at the Department of Health, Dr Keith Ridge, said:

" This is a time of great change in the health service. The patient care and NHS services provided by pharmacists continue to evolve. Alongside the new contractual framework for community pharmacy and the development of prescribing by pharmacists, this is another significant step forward for the pharmacy profession in delivering frontline clinical services to patients in the community.

_ This will help ensure patients and the NHS gain the maximum from pharmacists' clinical training and knowledge, and in particular their expert knowledge of medicines."

In London, Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt launched 'Modernising Nursing Careers, a document that marks the beginning of work to promote an up to date and positive image of nursing.

Modernising Nursing Careers (MNC) gives the nursing profession and the NHS clear direction at a time of change and pressure, by setting the direction for future nursing careers with a series of priorities and actions that fit the with the flexible career desires of today's nurses.

Source: UK Department of Health

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