The community of Pharmacist Independent Prescribers (PIPs) has grown by 315% over the past 7 years!

A few years on from Verve’s blog with pharmacist Sunil Kochhar, about the journey to pharmacist independent prescribing (read here), we’ve investigated the current pharmacy landscape to assess how the situation is evolving. 

But first, let’s take a few steps back…

Who are pharmacist independent prescribers (PIPs)?

PIPs are able to prescribe autonomously, including prescription only medicines (POMs), for any condition within their clinical competence. To be successful at it, one must possess extensive knowledge, clinical judgment, and critical thinking skills. This includes both hospital and community pharmacists. 

How can a pharmacist gain an independent prescribing qualification?

General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)-accredited courses, which generally take six months to complete, are required to qualify as independent prescribers. 

To increase the number of PIPs, the GPhC announced in May 2022 that pharmacists will no longer need two years of experience before enrolling in a course for independent prescribing. Instead, they will now require “relevant experience in a pharmacy setting”.As a further boost, NHS England also recently announced a new NHS-funded training offer to improve patient access by developing the clinical role of pharmacy technicians. This will help technicians to run dispensaries, freeing up pharmacists for the additional clinical services such as independent prescribing.2

What are the impacts of PIPs for pharma manufacturers?

Working in partnership with PIPs may be a new route for gaining knowledgeable and qualified therapy advocates and enhancing patient outcomes. PIPs possess the ability to bridge the gap between clinical insights and patient needs, amplifying the impact of treatments and supporting adherence. Plus, they enhance care accessibility within local communities and play a role in addressing health inequalities. PIPs also help relieve the burden on GP appointments. They allow patients to get quick and easy access to prescribers on their high street, something that would have traditionally involved getting an appointment with their doctor.

So… how are the numbers looking in 2023?

We’re very encouraged to see that the number of registered PIPs in the UK has risen from 3,873 in 2016 to 16,087 in 2023,3 a growth of 315%, meaning over 25% of registered pharmacists are able to go beyond traditional dispensing. 

Additionally, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in Scotland and Wales estimates that all pharmacists in patient-facing roles will be independent prescribers by 2030.4,5

Snapshot of pharmacist independent prescribers on the GPhC register between 2016 and 2023 by registered address location.  

  • 25% of registered pharmacists in England are PIPs
  • Almost 38% of registered pharmacists in Scotland are PIPs
  • Almost 34% of registered pharmacists in Wales are PIPs.

How confident do patients feel?

According to a recent market study by NHS England, patients had “high levels of confidence in a pharmacist prescribing medication independently of a doctor or nurse”.6

When pharmacists prescribed patients with medication they had never taken before, the rate of confidence in PIPs was 56%.7

The rate of confidence was higher among patients who have previously received a medication (77%), as well as those currently taking it (70%). 

Embracing the potential of PIPs:

Verve supports and celebrates the growing community of PIPs, who are enhancing care accessibility within local communities and playing a role in addressing health inequalities. Is it now time pharma brands embrace the potential of PIPs as strategic health partners, capable of offering informed clinical guidance and direct prescriptions? 

Working in partnership with PIPs may be a new route for gaining knowledgeable and qualified therapy advocates, and ultimately, enhanced patient outcomes.

Get in touch, info@wegiveyouverve.com, if you’d like to discuss your potential PIP strategy in more detail.

Sources:

1. GPHC Council agrees changes to the requirements for entry to independent prescribing courses (2022).General Pharmaceutical Council. Available at: https://www.pharmacyregulation.org/news/gphc-council-agrees-changes-requirements-entry-independent-prescribing-courses-courses (Accessed: August 2023). 

2. NHS Long Term Workforce Plan – NHS England. Available at: https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/nhs-long-term-workforce-plan-v1.2.pdf (Accessed: August 2023). 

3. GPHC registers data (June 2023) GPhC registers data. General Pharmaceutical Council. Available at: https://www.pharmacyregulation.org/about-us/research/gphc-registers-data (Accessed: August 2023). 

4. Pharmacy 2030: A professional vision. RPS brandmark. Available at: https://www.rpharms.com/pharmacy2030 (Accessed: August 2023). 

5. Pharmacy: Delivering a Healthier Wales. RPS brandmark. Available at: https://www.rpharms.com/wales/pharmacy-delivering-a-healthier-wales (Accessed: August 2023). 

6. Nine in ten patients positive about NHS community pharmacies (December 2022). NHS choices. Available at: https://www.england.nhs.uk/2022/12/nine-in-ten-patients-positive-about-nhs-community-pharmacies/ (Accessed: August 2023). 

7. Public perceptions of community pharmacy (December 2022). Ipsos. Available at: https://www.ipsos.com/en-uk/public-perceptions-community-pharmacy (Accessed: August 2023).

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