Pharmacists from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will convene in Edinburgh in the Spring for the first annual three-nations event to share best practice and insights. Chairing the first Celtic Conference will be Ted Butler who has been telling Pharmacy in Practice about the benefits of getting out of the shadow of our larger neighbour.
Working to deliver meetings and training for pharmacists in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, we already knew about outstanding pharmacy initiatives that weren’t getting the coverage that they deserved. My mother was Scottish and my father was Irish so I already knew the benefits of working across borders. But the drive to bring the nations together at a single event came from senior pharmacists in each of the three countries who told us they wanted to join forces with their Celtic colleagues but didn’t have the opportunity.
Pharmacy as a profession is good at sharing best practice locally and this is an opportunity to do that across a much bigger canvas.
It’s also important that pharmacists realise that they are not alone in their own country or within their own organisation, in facing the challenges that are actually common across all three nations, around how pharmacy contributes to the delivery of healthcare with the same challenges of an ageing population, fewer doctors and ever scarcer resources – with which they are expected to do ever more.
I think that what you’re seeing across the NHS in the three Celtic nations is much closer working between the secondary and primary care coupled with an increasing commitment to bring community pharmacy into the pattern of delivery of healthcare. I’m not sure that is necessarily something you could say about England, which seems to be really quite different in the way that primary and secondary operate.
I think there are more similarities in the Celtic nations than there are differences and we really hope that, when we scrutinise the hard evidence of what and how pharmacists are delivering in each nation, people will see that.
Although I lived in Edinburgh for 10 years, I would point to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde where I first saw what community pharmacy can really achieve if it is integrated fully into the policy and strategies of a Health Board, which now means community pharmacists in Glasgow are routinely undertaking tasks that used, a few years ago, to be the preserve of GPs.
We’ve brought together a steering group of pharmacists from each of the three nations who gave us a lot of their time to create the concept and bring it to fruition. They were adamant that Celtic Conference sessions and workshops have to be immensely practical – about how as much as what – to justify people taking time away from their work to come to Edinburgh.
Each country’s pharmacists were asked to recommend 12 speakers and perhaps we’ve got the approach right because only one speaker suggested to us declined to be involved – and that is because she will be on maternity leave. We’re also pleased to have the backing of the Chief Pharmaceutical Officers and will be hearing from Rose Marie Parr from Scotland, Andrew Evans from Wales and Cathy Harrison, Deputy Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for Northern Ireland.
Across each of the nations there is a sense that pharmacy is already demonstrating that it has answer to the big healthcare challenges and that, in policy terms, the door is opening and there is a real opportunity for the profession to be recognised fully for what it can deliver. The Celtic Conference is about demonstrating the effectiveness of pharmacy in the real world, and to push that door open even wider.
The Celtic Conference takes place at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on 26 March 2019. Registration is free for healthcare professionals.
More information and to register go to https://www.pharman.co.uk/celtic-conference