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Clinical responsibility for pharmacists increasing

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) has issued pharmacists with guidance on how best to advise their patients on managing hypertension.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) has issued pharmacists with guidance on how best to advise their patients on managing hypertension.

Working alongside the National Prescribing Centre (NPC), the Society drafted the updated guidance for pharmacists requiring further information on how to advise patients on the best course of action when dealing with high blood pressure. It said that the revised literature reflects the changing role of the community pharmacist. 

Heidi Wright, the RPSGB's head of practice, said: "As the role of pharmacy expands and pharmacists play more of an active role in screening and diagnostic testing, such as vascular checks, it is important to ensure that professional guidance is relevant and robust."

More training and money is being invested in adapting the role of the traditional community pharmacist. The number of clinical duties pharmacists have is increasing and they are now in a position where they can offer medical advice and disease screening.

"There's a continual drive to increase the responsibilities and clinical abilities of pharmacists," said Sam Ridge, communications officer for the RPSGB. "We want to engage more closely with GPs. We want to be able to provide greater clinical responsibility."

The British Medical Association (BMA) did, however, express concern over the increasing clinical role of the community pharmacist. Rebecca Spargo, press officer for the BMA said that GP's still feel that they should be responsible for the management of patients' long-term conditions.

Bill Beeby, chair of a clinical and prescribing subcommittee at the BMA said: "If it's going to be competing for patients to be on your doorstep ñ if it's done with the intention of ëget your hypertension managed at your pharmacy and if you're ill, go somewhere else' - then I am not terribly sure that that's actually good for patients."

"I think if we approach this with a spirit of cooperation, working to close gaps in care and working to make sure patients get better overall quality, I think we will all succeed," Beeby concluded.

However, Ridge at the RPSGB believes: "As frontline healthcare professionals, we're not interested in challenging GPs and taking responsibility from them but in having more integrated involvement in the NHS in general and in frontline healthcare."

29th April 2008

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