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Practice pharmacy services during the covid pandemic and in the future

Interview and article by Christine Clark

Practice pharmacists were able to adjust and simplify drug treatment to ensure continued effective treatment during the covid pandemic – and could do more of this type of work in future, according to Shailen Rao, managing director of Soar Beyond.

Practice pharmacists were on the front line during the covid-19 pandemic. Initially there was a surge in activity as people rushed to fill repeat prescriptions before the lockdown – and many queries to resolve as a result, explains Mr Rao.  As time went on a new equilibrium was established. Practice pharmacists undertook more medication reviews remotely whilst continuing to undertake pro-active case-finding and providing remote consultations to resolves problem or optimise treatment.

“We have done quite a lot of work running webinars on how to handle remote medication reviews. There was a lot of concern about people not being able to access primary care or choosing not to and withdrawing and then the condition deteriorates”, he says.  Pharmacists are able to identify those pts and provide the necessary support.

One good example was atrial fibrillation where practice pharmacists harm have been switching patients on to DOACs (direct-acting anticoagulants) which do not require INR testing, explains Mr Rao.

Another example was osteoporosis; many patients were managed through hospitals but during the pandemic attendance at clinics fell and there was a danger that treatment could be discontinued.  “Practice pharmacists were able to identify those patients and ensure that treatment was continued”, says Mr Rao. 

Future developments

Some practice pharmacist have already seen their careers develop; from starting with a clinical role, progressing to senior level and eventually becoming  team leader at Primary Care Network (PCN )level. Mr Rao would like to see a formal structure for this together with leadership training

“Practice pharmacist are not understudies or sidekicks for GPs but independent professionals who are adding real value“, he emphasises.

Read and watch the full series on our website or on YouTube.