Introduction

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Chapter: Hospital pharmacy : Consultant pharmacists

Whatever the sector of practice, pharmacists are experts on medicines. This may be in their discovery, manufacture, preparation, dispensing, provision of medicines information, clinical usage, dealing with adverse events, costs, medicines management or general safety.


Consultant pharmacists

 

Introduction

 

Whatever the sector of practice, pharmacists are experts on medicines. This may be in their discovery, manufacture, preparation, dispensing, provision of medicines information, clinical usage, dealing with adverse events, costs, medicines management or general safety. The question is: what distinguishes an advanced or consultant-level practitioner? Chapter 17 touched on the issue of advanced practice and its regulation, including the role of the Modernising Pharmacy Careers Board. This chapter will focus on developments in the UK hospital sector, detailing the history that led to the development of the consultant pharmacist role, key characteristics of the post-holders and the way forward, including non-hospital-based developments. It is worth noting here that the term ‘consultant pharmacist’ is used in the context of the Department of Health guidance, developed for use in England.

 

Leaders in hospital pharmacy have traditionally been chief pharmacists, as professional leaders and strategic thinkers, in addition to managing a department. The new and emerging role of the consultant pharmacists differs from the chief pharmacist role, and is based on the provision of clinical leadership as part of the pharmacy team, working with chief pharmacists to deliver improvements in practice. Consultant pharmacists will have devel-oped their expert practice area to an advanced level and have significant demonstrable experience in pharmacy leadership, education and research.

 

There has been some confusion in the use of the terms ‘advanced’, ‘higher-level’, ‘specialist’ and ‘expert’ in the context of the consultant pharmacist. In reality, consultant pharmacists may be any or all of these: they will be ‘advanced’ in their knowledge of their area of practice and may be working at a ‘higher’ clinical or technical level, they may have a specific clinical or technical area in which they have expertise, or may be ‘expert’ in a general area of practice. However, in National Health Service (NHS) hospitals in England, pharmacists may only use the title consultant if they are employed in an organisation where their post has been approved by the strategic health authority in accordance with Department of Health guidance. This guidance makes provision for an experienced practitioner to remain in a practice-based post for the benefit of patients.

How did these roles emerge?

 

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