My Week at Community Pharmacy Scotland

Josh Miller

Monday, July 17, 2017

As my week spent at Community Pharmacy Scotland comes to an end I was asked to reflect upon what I have witnessed and taken part in, and how this will benefit my future career. At first I thought, like I’m sure many other pharmacy students do, that CPS is a sort of governing body for Community Pharmacies in Scotland and works to enforce change within the primary sector. This simply is not the case.

CPS works for the community pharmacy owners or contractors as they are known. The contractors pay for the running of the organisation, who most importantly act as the essential bridge between the front line and the government. What I witnessed from the very start is that CPS’s paramount goal is to listen to pharmacies and then influence and negotiate upon their behalf. The community pharmacies run CPS if you will.  The Queen Street office is made up of 3 distinct teams who all work both independently and together to make sure that contractors are offered open, professional and reliable expertise.

I was able to work closely with the Policy & Development team, working on various pieces of work, ranging from overviewing certain pharmacy services and support materials to new and upcoming policy and ventures that will be seen in community pharmacy within the coming years. As we are all very aware, the landscape of Scottish pharmacy is drastically changing, and what I can say is that the team at CPS are on the forefront of change, making sure that it not only benefits patients but pharmacy as a profession too.

The Pharmacy Services team are the largest team within the Edinburgh Office and its easy to understand why. They are involved in a magnitude of work ranging from quarterly discount checks, drug tariff updates, prescription checking all while being available to answer any enquiries from practicing professionals.  100,000 items are checked within the office every month, so its not an unusual sight for bundles of GP10s to be faraway! These checks are done to ensure that the remuneration and reimbursement for contractors is accurate, and both over and underpayments are dealt with, ensuring that every pharmacy is paid fairly and correctly.

Support Services acts as the glue which keep the organisation together. The team work on all aspects of the daily running of the team and the building, whilst also working tirelessly on their social media accounts and the CPS website. The website is invaluable for all, including students. The vast array of guidance and information that is available was the biggest surprise for myself. Often it’s the things that when working on a Saturday and you have no idea of the answer it can be quite a problem, "however I guarantee that 90% of the time, the answer will be on the CPS website!"

"Overall I’m certain that there will be pharmacists out there who have little knowledge of CPS and what they can offer, and yes, you can function without knowledge of the organisation, but then I propose the question of why would you?"

In my week here I have learnt so much on topics that I take for granted on a daily basis; endorsing, serial barcodes, costing and shortages. Just by spending even a quick 10 minutes on the website, or twitter page or talking to one of the team on the phone you can easily improve your practice, and fundamentally make yourself a more accurate, efficient pharmacist.

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