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New Pilot at University of Worcester to Up-Skill Hospital Pharmacists

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A new pilot taking place at the University of Worcester will see hospital pharmacists trained to diagnose and prescribe, as part of a nationwide response to improving emergency care.

The pilot, launched and sponsored by Health Education West Midlands (HEWM), aims to up-skill pharmacists within hospitals, as part of an integrated response to the national urgent and emergency care crisis (House of Commons Health Committee 2013).

The idea is that pharmacists would be able to assess and diagnose minor injuries and illnesses, and then prescribe and dispense appropriate medication.

The University of Worcester is delivering specialist education to a group of pharmacists from across the West Midlands.

Tracy Lapworth, Course Leader for Advancing Practice, said: “There is a national struggle to recruit middle grade doctors and an urgent care crisis. The aim of this new initiative is to enable pharmacists to able to practice in an enhanced role, while also assisting in day-to-day clinical duties in urgent and acute care settings including the Emergency Department and Acute Medical Unit, as well as within Clinical Decision Teams, Mental Health, Paediatrics and Community Pharmacy. It was identified in phase two of the HEWM pilot that pharmacists need health assessment and diagnosis skills in order to prescribe, and that’s the education and training which we are providing.”

The University runs Advanced Health Assessment and Non-Medical Prescribing modules as part of its Master’s degree in Advancing Practice, aimed at nurses. These modules are now being offered to pharmacists.

“The pharmacists will learn how to take a medical history and how to undertake a patient examination,” said Ms Lapworth. “We feel that this will be hugely beneficial to the pharmacist, in order to allow them to prescribe.”

Worcester is one of three universities involved in the pilot, but is the only one to offer Advanced Health Assessment modules. The pharmacists will be awarded an Advanced Health Assessment and Practice Postgraduate Certificate in Prescribing Practice, upon completion of the course.

Krishna Shingadia, a pharmacist at Worcestershire Acute Hospital NHS Trust, is one of those on the course. “I think this is going to be the future of pharmacy,” she said. “It’s great for us on a professional level to gain new skills but will also, hopefully, have a big impact in our work places.”

Asif Sarwar, a pharmacist at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, added: “This gives us an opportunity to do different things and to make even more of a difference.”