You may never have heard of Pharmacist IPs (Independent Prescribers), or you may have been treated by one of our IPs in the past. We thought we would let you know what they get up to normally, and how this has had to adjust whilst we all fight the battle against COVID-19.
A Pharmacist IP is an experienced qualified pharmacist who has gone on to do additional training to practice as an Independent Prescriber. This means that they have developed skills to prescribe treatments, including prescription-only medicines, for different conditions over and above what is normally available over the counter in pharmacies. Each IP will have different areas that they specialise in and are comfortable and competent to prescribe for within our community pharmacies. You may also have come across pharmacist prescribers in your GP practice.
What have you been doing?
Within Davidsons, several of us have been carrying out a Common Clinical Conditions service in our branches for a while now. This means that usually we can do a physical examination of a patient to assess whether we can treat their condition without them having to go to their doctor or out of hours services. We can look in ears and at wounds, into throats, use urine testing, and sometimes listen to chests to assess and manage a variety of problems, and provide appropriate treatments including antibiotics if these are necessary. We can access some of your clinical information, with your consent, to ensure our treatments are safe and the right option for you. We can check your temperature, pulse and blood pressure to see if they are impacting on, or part of, your current condition, and some of us are trained in more advanced pain assessment too. Obviously, COVID-19 has had a massive impact on all of this.
So, what are you doing now?
We can still prescribe for the conditions which do not require a close-up examination at the moment. We can look at skin conditions such as impetigo, dermatitis, eczema flares (including infective episodes), cellulitis, infected insect bites and shingles. Our new option on our website to request a remote consultation allows you to add a photo, which is particularly useful to help us treat skin complaints. Some eye conditions can also be treated. If you have respiratory symptoms, then you need to be seen elsewhere for now – you should not be entering our pharmacies if you have new cough symptoms. We can also tell you which other healthcare professional is best to seek help from if we cannot help you. As things move on and the spread of COVID-19 reduces to a minimal level, we will start to build our services back up again as soon as it is safe to do so. If a close-contact consultation is necessary, we will have PPE in place for you and us. This is likely to include a mask, visor, apron and gloves for us, and we may also need you to wear a mask too. This does mean we all look a bit strange, but it protects everyone as much as possible from exposure to or spread of COVID-19.
Your first port of call should be your local branch. They may be able to treat you using the new, expanded Minor Ailment Service, which is now open to everyone permanently registered with a GP in Scotland, or there may be an IP working there. If not, and they feel you need to be referred to an IP, they can try to arrange a remote consultation with a Davidsons pharmacist prescriber. The IP can then send any prescription necessary to your local Davidsons Chemist for dispensing. We do not have independent prescribers in all our branches, but the list of prescribers and where they normally work is HERE. Please make sure you check that the pharmacist is working before you travel to see them – they may be on their day off or on holiday!
In the future, we hope to have many more pharmacist prescribers working in our branches. As the restrictions imposed due to COVID-19 are gradually lifted, we will get back to normal service for our existing and new IPs and start to build on what we were doing before. There will be new developments where pharmacist prescribers can help you manage your long-term conditions as well as your acute problems. New technology is helping us expand how we can support you, and how easily we can communicate with you and the other healthcare professionals involved in your care. It is a really exciting time to be a pharmacist prescriber!
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