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The future of pharmacy in cities

With continued frustration over waiting times to see GPs, could a wider role for pharmacists in the community transform patient care? Whether working in hospitals, the community or the high street, an expanded remit for pharmacists in tackling patient needs looks likely to become a reality.

Professor Alison Ewing who is the Clinical Director of pharmacy services across three major hospital trusts in Liverpool and who last year received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the UK Clinical Pharmacy Association (UKCPA), will be speaking on this topic at our Liverpool forum this week.

She is keen - as Professor of Pharmacy Innovation at Liverpool John Moores University - to talk about how innovation centres are key to developing economic prosperity for cities but also how technology is changing the way medicines can be dispensed more quickly to deal with the timely discharging of patients.

Alison believes that community pharmacies could play a vital role in helping to manage for example, HIV and some chronic leukaemia strains, while delivering chemotherapy and other medicines in the patient's home. Importantly, a wider service might ease the number of patients seeking help at A&E. However, trust is vital if patients are going to understand an expanded role for pharmacists and use the new services, she states.

Postgraduate education and training is also important, according to Alison, in continuing to encourage pharmacists to complete clinical diplomas to give them the knowledge and confidence for this potential wider role in the future.

A safe, quality and effective discharge process from hospital to community has been something that Alison in the area of innovation has looked forward to and research in this area is being carried out with Lloyds Pharmacy, which has had long-standing relationship with the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust. The Centre for Pharmacy Innovation or CPI is a research collaboration also involving Liverpool John Moores University and begun in 2009, where vital data is being collected in order to improve patient experience in many areas as well as effective and speedy patient discharge.

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