The importance of clinical pharmacology and therapeutics in the NHS
‘A Prescription for the NHS: Recognising the value of clinical pharmacology and therapeutics’ was developed by the British Pharmacological Society because of increasing demand on the NHS and well-documented evidence that CPT is able to meet these challenges, despite being a little-known specialty outside the medical establishment.
Clinical pharmacologists can make even more vital contributions to the NHS as it attempts to provide safe, equitable, high-quality patient care with restricted budgets.
The Future Hospital Commission identified the strategic demands facing the NHS and clinical pharmacology can be instrumental in rising to these challenges.
Those looking at the NHS big-picture realise that, facing a period of rapid change and the challenge of providing safe, high-quality care within restricted budgets, what's needed is a workforce that focuses on medicines - their safety, their effectiveness, their value-for-money.
Clinical pharmacologists practising CPT do exactly this.
Whether it's care provision, medicines policy and management, or toxicology, they excel at improving patient outcomes and experiences.
After all, with Britain's ageing population, the ability to look after patients with a wide range of conditions is only going to become increasingly important.
As one patient puts it: "They adapted my medication regime to a combination which fitted me, and it's working. They simply know what they are talking about."
Whether it's experimental medicine, or working with industry, or in education and training, clinical pharmacologists make a valuable contribution to the NHS.
Right now, for example, prescribing errors affect one in 8 patients across Britain.
That number could be reduced, but not all NHS organisations across Britain ensure their patients get equal access to the expertise of clinical pharmacologists.
These CPT consultants are working under excessive pressure and on average work 50 hours a week. On top of that, demand for their services has increased significantly in England and Wales in the past decade.
This growing demand means we need more CPT consultants. There were only 77 of them in 2012, far fewer than the 440 that are needed.
It's going to take time to achieve that. But the British Pharmacological Society thinks that the current numbers can be doubled to 150 by 2025.
Making that happen means NHS organisations across all four nations will need to come up with a joint strategy for the next generation of CPT consultants.
Those who become clinical pharmacologists need better support – from university through to consultant level – and a clearer career route to help develop their expertise.
This is the workforce that the NHS is looking for. Clinical pharmacologists can see the bigger picture - helping patients, the NHS, and the wider economy too.