Scotland’s chief pharmaceutical officer Professor Rose Marie Parr stands down today after five years as the profession’s leader in the Scottish government and head of the teams overseeing medicines and pharmacy policy.
Professor Parr had been due to retire earlier this year but, within days of announcing her decision, had to shelve her plans as her profession was confronted by its biggest challenge in living memory: to meet the dramatically increased demand from patients during the first months of the covid-19 pandemic while trying, at the same time, to help pharmacists and pharmacy technicians remain safe.
In a tweet today Professor Parr said:
“After over 40 years working, mostly in the NHS with a decade in academia – and five fantastic years as chief pharmaceutical officer for Scotland – is now time to retire. As CPO it has been an honour and privilege to lead pharmacy and pharmaceutical care for the population we serve.”
In a recent interview, Rose Marie Parr talked about how pharmacy has evolved since she had joined the register of pharmacists in 1982, working as a “young and naïve” pre-registration pharmacist in a Lanarkshire hospital:
“So much has changed for the better over the years since. We have gone from a period where it seemed mainly to be about formulation, dispensing and supply, to being much more patient-focused, utilising the knowledge and skills of pharmacists in a very different way.
“So, when I was a pre-reg, I would be looking at operational things like distribution and supply of medicines across the hospital wards.
“At the end of my time working in hospital the focus had moved to being directly involved in patient care and providing advice to prescribers and others.”
Professor Parr took on the role of director of postgraduate pharmacy education for Scotland and became the first director of pharmacy when NHS Education for Scotland was formed in 2002.
She was elected to be the first chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Scottish pharmacy board before being appointed to the role of chief pharmaceutical officer in 2015.
She oversaw a change in the direction of the pharmacy profession, first taking forward her predecessor Bill’s Scott’s policy document Prescription for Excellence, published in 2013, then with her own policy Achieving Excellence in Pharmaceutical Care.
Published in August 2017, it set out to increase further the role and recognition of pharmacy in communities as an additional and alternative said professionals to GPs.
It also promised the development of a broader professional career structure to allow pharmacists to move between different community in clinical settings.
Meanwhile, some 150 new roles were created for pharmacists to work in general practice.
At the end of July, NHS Pharmacy First was launched, giving everyone in Scotland the opportunity to go to their community pharmacy for diagnosis and prescribing of treatment for a series of common conditions.
“The one thing that I have missed out on, and others now have the opportunity to embrace, is being a prescriber,” Professor Parr said in her interview.
“I think utilising pharmacists’ knowledge and skills around prescribing, being the actual prescriber, taking accountability and responsibility for those medicines decisions, will be at the heart of the ‘new normal’ for pharmacy and a huge opportunity for our profession.”