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Press release: Enhancing skill mix in Community Pharmacies

Pharmacy Research UK (PRUK) are delighted to announce the publication of research funded by the charity which examined enhancing the skill mix in Community Pharmacies. The research was conducted by Professor Alison Bullock at the University of Cardiff and aimed to report on barriers to skill-mix in community pharmacy and explore how they can be addressed so that skill-mix may be optimised.

The role of the community pharmacy in the healthcare system is changing and the services they provide is expanding. The re-allocation of pharmacists’ and other team members’ tasks and responsibilities have prompted growing interest in optimising the mix of staff (skill-mix) within community pharmacies. However, despite being willing to delegate parts of the dispensing process, pharmacists still carry out tasks which could be performed by pharmacy technicians or accuracy checking technicians (ACTs). This study objectives were

  • to identify pharmacists’ understanding of the skills, competencies and responsibilities of members of the pharmacy team;
  • gauge pharmacists’ readiness to employ extended roles and responsibilities;
  • document perceptions of barriers and enablers to effective delegation;
  • provide case studies of exemplar team working;
  • develop learning groups for those considering enhancing skill-mix; and
  • make recommendations for skill-mix in community pharmacy.

 

The key learnings from this study were:

  1. Skill-mix optimisation is about using people in the right role for the task in hand. Workload pressures can be eased for pharmacists where they are able to delegate tasks. Consideration should be given to all members of the team, not just those who are most qualified. Despite a degree of uncertainty about role remit, less qualified roles were viewed positively and seen as easing workloads and releasing pharmacist time for services and greater patient contact.
  2. Dynamic leadership, staff feeling valued and taking pride in their work, a strong patient-focus and a systematic but flexible approach to managing workload where staff roles could be covered by more than one staff member. Making best use of the skill-mix takes leadership and needs support from the management
  3. The use of learning sets or a ‘communities of practice’ model is worthy of further investigation. There is a need to experiment with different models and learn how to overcome barriers.

 

For more information please contact PRUK at practice.research@rpharms.com

Notes to Editors

  1. PRUK is the principle funder of pharmacy research in the UK. Founded as a result of a merger in 2012 of two previous research funding charities, PRUK has a broad programme of research in place. PRUK funds both research projects and individual bursaries to improve skills across the pharmacy sector. Registered charity number 1148335.
  2. See the full research report

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