The upcoming launch of Pharmacy First Scotland

17 July 2020

Following on from my blog last week on wellbeing, I thought it was fitting to share that I’ll be taking a much-anticipated break next week and as such the blog will come from our Deputy Chair for Policy, Dr Alasdair Forbes.

This week, I have a few pieces of news and upcoming events to share with you. 

Pharmacy First

This week, you will hopefully have received signposting guidance from NHS Scotland (292 KB PDF) regarding the launch of Pharmacy First Scotland, which will replace the current Minor Ailment Service from 29 July.

Pharmacy First is a revamped consultation-based service which encourages all those living in Scotland to visit their community pharmacy as the first port of call for all minor illnesses and common clinical conditions.

On consultation with a member of the public, community pharmacists will be able to advise on self-management of conditions, prescribe certain over the counter medications if required, or refer on to other healthcare professionals when appropriate.

Pharmacy First very much chimes with the ethos that we have promoted to the public through our 3 Before GP campaign.

As services continue to recover across Scotland, we are acutely conscious that our 'new normal' will be very different, with capacity significantly reduced across services, largely due to infection control requirements and different ways of working.

In addition to maintaining safe service for acute and chronic illness, we are all facing a significant backlog of health concerns that will need to be prioritised according to clinical need.

Supported by realistic public messaging from Scottish Government and Health Boards, we must all play our part in promoting appropriate and proportionate use of healthcare services and Pharmacy First is a great opportunity to enable us to do so.

We will continue to promote the launch of Pharmacy First nationally at the College and I would encourage you, if you can, to get in touch with your local pharmacies to check what services they will be able to offer to patients when the scheme launches.

You may also like to consider, as we are doing in my practice, updating phone messages and practice websites to direct patients to this service.

We are also welcoming community pharmacy colleagues to a socially distanced meeting at the practice next week to hear about the new service, to allow us to incorporate this into the advice that our care coordinators can give when patients contact us.

We have found before, that this helps to build patient and staff confidence in the system and allows us the opportunity to support and connect with our community pharmacy colleagues, who have done truly amazing work on the front line over the pandemic with their doors never closing to the public.

Rebuilding the NHS - Improving Medical Pathways for Acute Care

This week, at a UK level the College has co-published, alongside the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, the Royal College of Physicians and the Society of Acute Medicine, a shared set of principles to help guide the transformation of the urgent and emergency care pathways.

The principles available to view in the Rebuilding the NHS - Improving Medical Pathways for Acute Care report and very much chime with discussions that are underway in Scotland around the future of healthcare delivery.

The shared principles call for a whole-system approach to recovery planning within the NHS and stress the need to consider the impact of service change on health inequalities at a local level.

The co-publication of the principles sends out a powerful message that developments in one part of the NHS must not be to the detriment of other parts of the service.

I continue to make this point, along with calling for robust public messaging around NHS recovery, very strongly in all discussions that I am involved with around this area in Scotland.

Interview with Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland

This week, I was delighted to be interviewed for Alliance Live by Margaret McKeith, who is the National Lead for House of Care.

We had an enjoyable and full-ranging discussion around the challenges, the changes and the learning for general practice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We talked about the heightened awareness around the importance of care planning conversations and the factors that enable these to happen in a proactive, person-centred way - ideally not during a crisis.

We talked about the specific issues being faced in areas of deprivation and the vital role that our third sector colleagues play in offering support to so many of our patients across the country.

We discussed the precarious financial situation that so many of these vital organisations are finding themselves in, and how the College in Scotland has been consistently vocal in its support for the third sector as a fundamental underpinning of how we deliver Realistic Medicine.

We talked of the collaborative working that has accelerated during the pandemic response between health and social care and how these relationships and interface will be so vital moving forward.

We also covered the hugely important work that has been undertaken by community link workers (CLW) across Scotland, proactively outreaching to the most vulnerable and linking them with services in their community.

The services most commonly referred to have included food banks, welfare advice, housing support and of course, mental health supports.

Not all practices benefit from having a CLW colleague, and again, the College in Scotland has been vocal in its support for wider roll-out of the CLW programme, with an initial prioritisation for the most deprived areas where needs are greatest.

Their roles are going to be so important moving forward. As I gathered information for this interview, a CLW colleague shared with me a news article, as an example of the potential for links to be made within communities.

This was one of the most heart-warming things I have read in a long time, and I thought I’d share it with you to brighten up your weekend.

The interview will be available on the Alliance website from next week and we’ll share on Twitter too.

Upcoming events

There are a few virtual events coming up which may be of interest to you:

Medicines in Primary Care WebEx: this is the third in a series of joint Primary Care Resilience WebExes hosted by Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS), Scottish Government and RCGP Scotland. It will take place from 13:00-14:00 on Tuesday 21 July and you can register for this event, free of charge.

Wellbeing - what is it and what causes it?: The HIS QI Connect series is returning with a session from Professor Sir Harry Burns, Scotland’s past Chief Medical Officer and current Professor of Global Public Health at Strathclyde University. This event will take place from 14:00-16:00 on Wednesday 29 July, and registration can be made now.

Finally, earlier this week our Executive Officer for Professional Development, Dr Sigi Joseph joined a panel discussion for the latest #RCGPTogetherLive webinar series on how the College can best support its Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) members.

This was a hugely insightful discussion which will help to progress thinking within the College around how we can ensure that we are as proactive, supportive and representative an organisation as is possible.

The discussion is available to watch on the College’s YouTube channel.

Post written by

Dr Carey Lunan, Chair RCGP Scotland

Dr Carey Lunan is a GP partner in one of Edinburgh's Deep End practices and is the current Chair of RCGP Scotland.

Prior to this, she held the role of Executive Officer for Patients and Public and Interface working. She also sits on the RCGP Ethics Committee.

Her priorities during her time as Chair include a focus on practitioner wellbeing, improving the interface between primary and secondary care, and growing and retaining the GP workforce.

She has made tackling health inequalities a high priority and has consistently called for the need to engage the public in a national conversation about the realistic role of the modern NHS and the importance of collective social responsibility.

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