In a letter to the Convener of the Health and Sport Committee Lewis Macdonald MSP who chaired the enquiry into the Supply and Demand for Medicines in Scotland, the Directors of Pharmacy in Scotland have criticised the recently published report.
“Whilst we are pleased that the report highlights important issues, such as the need for better data systems to drive improvements in patient outcomes, overall we are disappointed with the report. Many of the conclusions put forward in the executive summary are not supported by the more positive evidence presented in the body of the report, in particular, the assertions of a lack of leadership across professional groups and a lack of focus on solutions, which we believe are wholly unjustified.”
The letter authored by Director of Pharmacy for NHS Lanarkshire and Chair of the NHS Scotland Directors of Pharmacy Christine Gilmour continued by saying that the report could undermine patient and public confidence.
“We have grave concerns that these declarations have a very real potential to damage both public and patient confidence in the care they currently receive. Unfortunately, the key areas for improvement that the report identifies are lost in the apparent misunderstandings, inconsistencies and inaccuracies that permeate through the report.”
The letter points to some recent significant achievements in pharmacy in Scotland in recent years and makes the point that these achievements were, in the view of the Directors of Pharmacy, achieved under circumstances of considerable financial strain.
“Directors of Pharmacy have led the establishment of a national specification, framework and funding model for Hospital Electronic Prescribing and Medicines Administration (HEPMA) and have collaborated with colleagues to lead safe and effective implementations within Health Boards.”
“This has been achieved against a backdrop of significant financial challenge in Health Boards, requiring strong leadership to secure the support and additional funding essential to deliver this step change for patient safety in Scotland.”
The letter closes by stating that the response to the current pandemic by the Directors of Pharmacy and the wider pharmacy profession has helped ensure that NHS Scotland did not at any time run out of medicines.
“As leaders of the pharmacy profession, it is the raison d’être of the NHS Scotland Directors of Pharmacy to put patients and their families and carers at the centre of our work at all times. This has been well demonstrated by our work to ensure the needs of patients have been met during the SAR-Cov-2 pandemic. You may be aware of the global challenges in relation to the medicine supply chain which was put under further and unprecedented strain during the peak phase of SAR-Cov-2 virus. The challenge of securing extreme quantities of oxygen, renal replacement fluids, critical care medicines, palliative care and end of life medicines tested our systems as never before but was successfully met thanks to the work of pharmacists and their teams.”
“NHS Scotland did not run out of any medicines.”