Senedd member Russell George and Scottish Parliament member Dr Sandesh Gulhane reiterated their commitment to e-prescriptions and investing in pharmacy staff on a visit to Boots pharmacy.
Mr George welcomed his Scottish counterpart Dr Gulhane who is also the shadow health minister in Scotland to Newtown for the first time. The two elected members visited Boots pharmacy on Newtown high street. They were met by Pharmacist Peter Mitchinson, David Eaves, the area manager of Boots in Wales and by Judy Thomas, from Community Pharmacy Wales.
The trio welcomed the two members and gave them both a tour of Boots where they also discussed the critical role that Boots Newtown played during the pandemic in providing access to medicines and health advice and how community pharmacy is evolving.
It comes a matter of weeks after Mr George spoke in a debate which received cross-party support that called on the Welsh Government to:
· urgently reduce bureaucracy by introducing e-prescriptions and providing access to medical records;
· ensure dedicated protected learning time within working hours for wellbeing and study; and
· invest in the pharmacy workforce to train more pharmacy staff and upskill existing staff.
The introduction of e-prescribing improves patient safety reducing errors in prescriptions. In England, it has been estimated that automating repeat prescriptions may save 2.7m hours of GP and practice time.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s 2021 Workforce Wellbeing Survey shows that nine out of 10 respondents were at high risk of burnout and 1-in-3 had considered leaving the profession altogether.
Commenting, Mr George MS said:
“I’m delighted to have brought my Scottish counterpart to my constituency to show them the great work pharmacists do because since becoming Shadow Health Minister, it has been a privilege to learn about the crucial role pharmacies have played during the pandemic, supporting primary and secondary care, especially when Welsh pharmacists also face levels of bureaucracy unlike anywhere else in the UK.
“Given we know the valuable roll they can play in delivering directly for patients and relieving pressures elsewhere in the NHS, pharmacists need much more support and investment from government, including significantly more training spots, and hope to see that soon after winning the unanimous support of the Senedd in our recent debate.”
Dr Gulhane MSP, who continues to work one day a week as an NHS GP, added:
“Pharmacists supported the national rollout of the Covid vaccine, helping getting jabs in arms so the United Kingdom could get back to normal and move on from the pandemic.
“They also provide advice on how best to self-manage less severe conditions, a vital and convenient service on our high streets which reduces visits to GP surgeries at a time of intense pressure on the NHS.
“To ensure that pharmacists work well in each part of the UK and get what they need, it is great to be in Wales to meet colleagues and see how health services work here.
David Eaves, Boots Area Manager for Wales, said:
“It was a pleasure to show the shadow ministers around the store today, and to update them on how we’re developing the services our community pharmacy offers in Newtown.
“Building on the continuous service and face-to-face care our pharmacy teams provided throughout the pandemic, we are now collaborating with GPs and other colleagues in the local primary care cluster to deliver a range of services in coordination, including the Common Ailments Service, seasonal flu vaccinations and the emergency supply of medicines.
“At Boots we're passionate about raising the profile of the community pharmacy sector and the benefits we can bring to patients and the NHS – in Wales and across the UK.”
Judy Thomas from Community Pharmacy Wales said:
“It was a pleasure to welcome Russell George MS and Dr Sandesh Gulhane MSP to Boots in Newtown to show them the work of dedicated community pharmacy teams
“Community pharmacies have played a significant role in providing front line treatment during the pandemic and their role in delivering primary care continues to grow with the number of patients registered to a pharmacy for the Common Ailments Service doubling in the past 12 months.
“This visit comes at an exciting time for pharmacy with the expansion of Clinical Services with the launch of the new Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework leading to more patients gaining access to the treatments they require and pharmacies becoming even bigger fixtures of local communities here in Wales.”