The Royal Pharmaceutical society English Pharmacy Board chair, Sandra Gidley has spoken out to say that pharmacists are ‘underused’ in the provision of mental health services. Amongst other suggestions, she has called for the presence of a specialist mental health pharmacist to be part of every mental health team regardless of setting.
Commenting on Lord Carter’s review NHS Operational Productivity: Unwarranted Variations – Mental Health Services, Community Health Services RPS England Board Chair Sandra Gidley said:
“We welcome Lord Carter’s recognition that pharmacy services are underused in the community and mental health sectors.
“Pharmacists working across all sectors must be better integrated into care pathways to support patients with mental health conditions.
“Every mental health team should have access to a specialist mental health pharmacist whether the team is based in the community, in a mental health hospital or in an acute hospital. Specialist pharmacists can support colleagues to deliver the right care in different settings and of course advise patients directly too.
“The physical health of mental health patients is often neglected and this is an issue that should be addressed through the kind of holistic approach that pharmacists and their teams already provide as part of the Healthy Living Pharmacy approach. The New Medicine Service should be extended to cover all long-term conditions including mental health medicines so that more patients can benefit in a structured way from the support a pharmacist can offer.
“Greater use of pharmacist prescribers, as the review suggests, combined with access to the patient record would also improve efficiency and significantly increase patient access to medicines support. Pharmacist prescribers must be considered an essential part of the clinical multidisciplinary team to improve patient care and overcome some of the challenges in today’s NHS.
“Workforce planning should take into account the new and emerging roles of pharmacist prescribers. Training around mental health should be part and parcel of undergraduate and postgraduate education for pharmacists as part of the drive to improve care and achieve parity of esteem between physical and mental health.
“More resources are also required for the existing pharmacist workforce to undertake advanced clinical skills and qualify as independent prescribers. Lord Carter’s second report has started an interesting debate which puts pharmacy at the forefront of patient care.”