Professor Harry McQuillan on the ‘ART’ of community pharmacy

Chief Executive Officer of Community Pharmacy Scotland Professor Harry McQuillan


Professor Harry McQuillan has been Chief Executive Officer of Community Pharmacy Scotland for 14 years. He has worked in a range of roles across pharmacy since qualifying as a pharmacist a number of years ago.


Our paths have crossed a number of times over the years but given the exciting developments in pharmacy in Scotland, the timing of this interview was really perfect.


Earlier this year was supposed to be one of the most exciting times in community pharmacy in Scotland but all that was put on hold due to COVID-19.


But with adversity comes opportunity and the community pharmacy network in Scotland ‘creaked’ but was never close to falling over even at the height of the crisis. It is this balance between a secure supply chain versus a platform to deliver valuable services right at the heart of communities that Harry describes as being most important.


‘Supply is not enough’.


Community Pharmacy Scotland has managed to support the development of a network of community pharmacies in Scotland that can deliver that core dispensing role efficiently but that also leaves the door open to innovation.


And that innovation will shortly come in the form of Pharmacy First. We chatted about the in’s and out’s of the new service. I was particularly interested to hear Harry’s vision for the future whilst casting a look over our shoulder to the days of Professor Bill Scott and some of the policy documents that have helped to deliver the opportunities that we see today. We even discussed the origins of pharmaceutical care back in 1990.


‘Scotland is a place where you can work in community pharmacy and put your degree to the test’.


The door has now been thrown open to innovation and service development up here all under the banner of ‘Achieving Excellence in Pharmaceutical Care’. Rose Marie Parr has given the network permission to get on and do it. And the money from the Scottish Government has followed. The relationship between the players here continues closer than ever.


Harry reflected on the ‘Prescription for Excellence’ document and restated the ambition in there that every pharmacist should be an independent prescriber. The Pharmacy First deal makes a confident move towards a consultation based payment structure to the community pharmacy contract. The conflict of interest that is often cast up around supplying and dispensing on the same premesis has been mitigated and pharmacists can move forward with confidence.


Harry described how the future involves gathering a complete dataset that will help with the articulation of the true value of community pharmacy.


I found the chat extremely uplifting. Scottish community pharmacy are playing to win and so far have delivered. Pharmacy First is the next challenge and it comes at the right time. The network needs to not just recover but innovate, develop and thrive.


There were a few probing personal questions in there so make sure and listen or watch to the end.


You can watch the interview or subscribe to the PIP podcast if you prefer to listen.


I found it to be a very encouraging and optimistic conversation but don’t take my word for it, decide for yourself.






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