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- Issue 81: April 2009
- Issue 80: March 2009
- Issue 79: February 2009
- Issue 78: December 2008
- Issue 77: November 2008
- Issue 76: October 2008
- Issue 75: September 2008
- Issue 74: August 2008
- Issue 73: July 2008
- Issue 72: June 2008

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A Sign of the Time?

Ken Stafford
A Consultant Pharmacist Perspective

Issue 78: December 2008
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The WA Pharmaceutical Council recently appointed a new manager for continuing education, a lady with a very interesting background.
Lesley Gregory is a pharmacist originally registered in the UK and comes to us in WA from a role as Prescribing Support Pharmacist for the NHS Medicines Management network.
We, in this state, now have a source of expert knowledge in the area of pharmacist prescribing, one I hope we make good use of.


I have been an advocate of pharmacists gaining the right to prescribe for quite some time and look hopefully to a greater discussion of the topic here in WA.
I keep repeating the mantra “Pharmacists are the experts in the use of medicines” and cannot understand the reluctance of many of my colleagues to grasp the chance to expand their role in the care of patients.
Are pharmacists to be the last of the health care team to gain the right to prescribe?
Why should we be left behind by nurses, physiotherapists, Uncle Tom Cobley and all, in this role when pharmacists are uniquely placed to order medicines?
It irritates me that pharmacists are being called on to teach nurses the intricacies of pharmacotherapy so they can go out to prescribe for patients when this role is blocked to us. Surely, as the profession with possibly the greatest depth of knowledge on the use of drugs we should have been first cab off the rank in this field instead of languishing far behind.

Having recently gone through the trauma of AACP reaccreditation by multiple choice questions I can just imagine how being able to prescribe would expand the benefits offered by consultant pharmacists during the medication review process.
Not only would the pharmacist be able to review the medicine regimen, offer advice to the doctor on addressing potential problems and improving therapy but would, with permission of the GP, be able to write scripts to overcome these problems.
I suppose this could be termed “one stop shopping” for good pharmaceutical outcomes. Consultant pharmacists as a group are more than capable of fulfilling this role.

“Dream on Ken” people might say and “pharmacists don’t have the expertise to diagnose and treat”.
Pardon!! Tell me - how many pharmacists do you know in the community who don’t carry out this very procedure umpteen times every day?
Of course we are talking about OTC medications but the basic concept is no different.
A customer/patient comes into the shop, describes a number of symptoms then waits expectantly for the “great wise one” to diagnose the problem and offer a solution.
Don’t give me the sad old tale that pharmacists lack expertise – most spend their days acting as a triage health professional.
Treat what we can, advise when no action is required (other than watchful waiting) and refer on to the doctor when further treatment is necessary.
Pharmacists diagnose and treat appropriately at least as often each day as any doctor.
Forget the “quiet achiever” status pharmacy appears to crave, let us put our hands up and shout “You want someone to write scripts for ongoing treatment, we’re just the people you need”.
Pharmacists are more than able to expand their role in the health care process and my hope is that Lesley will, here in WA at least, be able to help them gain enough confidence in their abilities to raise their voices.

This has been a fairly “interesting” year for pharmacy and I hope to be with you again in 2009 when things might settle down somewhat.

My thanks to Neil for his many efforts in cajoling, threatening and pleading to his columnists so effectively that i2P grows in stature from month to month.


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