A pioneering new role has been launched at a Moray hospital to help ease the pressure from staff shortages.
The first advanced pharmacist practitioner (APP) for NHS Grampian has been appointed at Dr Gray’s Hospital, which is believed to be the first of its kind in Scotland.
The new role, which encourages the staff to meet patients and discuss their medication, is aimed at providing support to junior doctors during their time at the Elgin hospital.
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Previously, pharmacist’s duties were restricted to compiling medicine that been prescribed by doctors.
Senior management at the NHS hope the extra help will make Dr Gray’s a more attractive place to learn for trainees by easing the burden.
Issues attracting junior doctors to Moray has been blamed for recent downgrades to the hospital while blueprints are drawn up to reduce the reliance on them.
Lesley Giblin, lead pharmacist at Dr Gray’s, explained other health boards across the country have already expressed an interest in replicating the new post.
She said: “We were already thinking about this type of role while we have been looking at workforce planning. The problems we’ve had with staffing has actually given us the opportunity to try it here but it was already part of the long-term thinking.
“It makes sense because we already have the expertise so we might as well use it. Medicines are becoming more complicated and it’s the pharmacists who tend to know most about them – whether they will react with something else or whatever.”
The role has been created at Dr Gray’s for a one-year pilot project before it is decided whether it should continue.
The current staff will work principally in the women’s and children’s services, which were both downgraded last year as a result of junior doctor shortages.
Heather Main, who is the first APP appointed, said: “It means I’ve been able to speak to people directly about the needs, which has allowed the medication to be more tailored to them individually.”
Consultant obstetrician Professor Grant Cumming said: “The role has been instrumental in allowing us to meet some of the challenges that we’ve faced over the last few months.
“Clearly there is no quick fix to the staffing issues we face but this kind of innovative solution is both a step forwards and welcome progress towards delivering a sustainable service.”