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Press Release - 21 February 2007

Region leads the way in training for pioneering pharmacists

People in the south-west could be among the first to have their pharmacist prescribe and monitor their treatment instead of a doctor - as a group of pioneering pharmacists from the region qualified from a new six-month course yesterday.

The newly-qualified pharmacists, who already work in surgeries, hospitals and hospices throughout the region (*see case studies from your area below), will now be able to prescribe medicines without having to seek approval from a medical practitioner. They will however be working in partnership with doctors and the rest of the healthcare team.

This new qualification extends powers introduced in 2004 which enabled specially-trained pharmacists to treat specific patients with routine problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or drug recovery programmes, but did not enable them to treat other problems those patients might come to them with.

The 26 pharmacists who have completed the new independent prescribing course will now be able to prescribe treatments for a range of minor ailments such as headache, pain, thrush, or heartburn, as well as in their specialist area of prescribing.

“This is the first large group of pharmacists to qualify with independent prescriber status anywhere in the UK,” said Denise Taylor, who heads the course from the Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology at the University of Bath.

“The University of Bath is leading the way in developing this new course, which helps pharmacists acquire the skills they need to become independent prescribers.

“The course helps them build on their already extensive medical knowledge to be able to treat people in their own right.

“It also gives them the confidence to go into a practice setting and start prescribing treatments for the conditions that they are familiar with.

“For patients, the move towards independent prescribing means that patients will get quality care faster, and more conveniently, than ever before.”

The University of Bath prescribing courses have been accredited by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, the professional and regulatory body for pharmacists, and involve practice consultations as well as learning more about specialist areas of prescribing.

The six month part-time programme is designed so that pharmacists can do most of their training within the organisations they work for - so the doctors they work with can provide help and guidance as they learn about the practical aspects of prescribing.

“In 2007, the Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology celebrates 100 years of pharmacy training and research in Bath,” said Professor Richard Guy, Head of the Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology.

“When the Bath pharmacy college of was established in 1907, it was at the very forefront of training in the pharmacy profession.

“With the independent prescribing course, and research and teaching throughout the department, it is fantastic to see that we retain that position today.”

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