Blog: Community pharmacy in Scotland

How time flies! After 21 weeks in post, here are my reflections on taking a mammoth leap into a new role within pharmacy with no real experience of policy but a wealth of knowledge of community pharmacy in Scotland. And what better day to focus on community pharmacy in Scotland than St Andrew’s Day?

At the heart of the role is being able to represent the interests of our membership in Scotland. I provide a lead in all CCA policy development activities across Scotland, working with the Scottish Management Group and CCA representatives at a local level. Not to mention supporting the advocacy of the CCA’s vision, mission and values to all stakeholders across Scotland.

Working just one day per week was initially a daunting thought but breaking it down and being organised was the key to my initial success. My 21 weeks was only 29 days, allowing for some flexibility.

The central team led by the chief executive Malcolm Harrison were welcoming and willing to listen to how things were different in Scotland. For example, instead of the English CCG model, there are 14 regional NHS Boards which are responsible for the protection and the improvement of their population’s health and for the delivery of frontline healthcare services.

This led me to run a session to help the team understanding of the pharmacy contract in Scotland. It’s very patient centred and very different to England and Wales. The population in Scotland can access a range of services via their local community pharmacy, including: a free smoking cessation scheme, emergency hormonal contraception, treatment for uncomplicated urinary tract infections and urgent supply of medicines. These national services have only minor limitations, in some instances, relating to age. A key next step is to upskill the CCA exec team on the funding arrangements that make the contract work. Community Pharmacy Scotland have produced a really helpful guide to the Scottish contract.

In a short time, I have:

·         Met formally with the team at Community Pharmacy Scotland, attended the Scottish Forum Meeting in Dunkeld, where Rosemarie Parr updated on the Scottish government’s vision for community pharmacy, Prescription for Excellence – One Year On, and

·         Attended a stakeholder event run by Elaine Paton at the Scottish Government on the redesign of the Chronic Medicines Service.

Shortly before joining the CCA at the end of June, the Scottish Management Group ran an engagement day for local Health Board reps. The outputs from the day gave me my first challenges:

·         Updating the team on the Lobbying (Scotland) Act 2016 which sets out the regulations that affect anyone contacting Scottish parliament representatives

·         Developing a newsletter for Community Pharmacy Scotland Board reps

·         Responses to relevant consultations for Scotland

·         Keeping up to date with Scottish government communications on a weekly basis, and

·         Lots more, including the more obvious but very important matter of getting to know everyone.

I must say though, it’s been great fun! With the time I have working on behalf of the CCA, I am most looking forward to helping develop their governance in Scotland. In particular, working to support and upskill local Community Pharmacy Health Board reps through induction, mentoring and enabling performance.

Caroline Wells

Policy and Planning Manager, Scotland

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