Today is World Patient Safety Day (WPSD). WPSD was established in 2019 by the 72nd World Health Assembly through the adoption of resolution WHA72.6, entitled "Global Action on Patient Safety". WPSD is about raising awareness of the importance of patient engagement. It also aims to educate, increase awareness and ultimately, help reduce patient harm and increase safety. It is one of the global public health days driven by the World Health Organization (WHO).
For us, patient safety has always been a top priority. It’s why we have invested well in excess of £3m in recent years on initiatives designed to enhance patient safety in the pharmaceutical wholesale/distribution supply chain. Our data and reporting show this is working well.
WHO found that when patients "are treated as partners in their care", their satisfaction and positive health outcomes increase. Importantly, so does their safety. Including patients in policy formation, representing them in governance structures in the healthcare environment, empowering them to engage in co-designing safety strategies, and becoming active partners in their care, is essential. To achieve this, it is necessary to create clear opportunities for patients' voices to be heard. There is no greater place that we evidence this than in our own frontline pharmacy operations.
In alignment with this year's World Patient Safety Day theme, "Elevate the Voice of Patients", we emphasise the role of patients’ active involvement in their care within the broader healthcare system. Patient safety is a shared responsibility. By fostering open communication and collaboration with our own patients, we can enhance the quality and safety of healthcare services.
Helping treat patients with high quality medicines
Smartway Pharmacy is our pharmacy, which provides advice and dispenses private prescriptions to patients in a simple and fast way. It has been recognised for leveraging our own extensive global network and supply chain to ensure medicines that are in shortage are accessible to patients.
Pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare professionals to patients, and that comes with immense responsibility. Our pharmacists have said that it's extremely rewarding when they can assist patients in understanding their treatment, and accessing it. We make sure that we are accessible, by keeping multiple contact methods available to engage with patients.
Our role as pharmacists is to ensure patients receive high-quality medication that is safe, meets their needs and that they understand how it helps them. It's a rewarding responsibility that we take seriously. - Kirti Patel, Superintendent Pharmacist
Patient safety is our top priority
Our pharmacists engage with their patients, recognising that each patient has unique healthcare needs that sometimes require tailor-made or specially manufactured medications. To meet these diverse requirements, patients must only receive medicines that meet strict quality and safety standards; they must also be effective.
Holding regulatory and government approvals, licences, and authorisations across the globe to carry out wholesale distribution of pharmaceuticals and even dispensing them, including those granted by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), we ensure that patients consistently receive the highest quality treatments. Our laboratories and distribution hubs offer complete traceability of every ingredient used, assuring patients receive the best possible care.
By applying strict pharmaceutical quality management principles, we ensure that patients only receive safe and effective medicines. We do this by only dealing with suppliers and manufacturers who we have rigorously assessed in accordance with our own processes.
Empathetic listeners, trusted advisers
Engaging with patients, attentively listening to their needs and concerns, and seeking their feedback on how we can further enhance our services are daily practices for our pharmacists. After all, if we aim to remain true to our mission of assisting patients in achieving better health outcomes, their active participation and feedback are invaluable. Patient feedback has allowed Smartway to identify medicines shortages across the UK, and respond by importing unlicensed medicines. This two-way communication has been vital in ensuring critical medicines that were in shortage were available to a large patient demographic through our efforts to import unlicensed medicines, leveraging the pharmaceutical wholesale/distribution supply chain we have built.
Our pharmacists forge meaningful connections with our patients. They serve as trusted healthcare advisers who take the time to understand each patient's individual needs and empower access to those medicines. This personalised approach ensures that patients receive the correct medication and helps them better understand their treatment plans and any potential side effects.
Listening is at the core of our pharmacist-patient relationships, as we hear patients' questions, concerns, and experiences, providing empathetic support. This process leads to valuable insights into improving our own service or response to specific patient issues. Patients make important decisions in partnership with pharmacists, based on specific advice. This compassionate two-way communication empowers patients to make informed decisions about their health.
In healthcare, listening is the cornerstone upon which we build trust, empower patients, and ultimately, drive better health outcomes. It's the catalyst that transforms patient concerns into confident choices and fosters informed decisions. - Rupi Bhasin, Director of Digital Health/Pharmacist
Our commitment to patient safety goes hand in hand with our dedication to maintaining clear lines of communication. Our pharmacists address medication-related queries or concerns, ensuring patients are confident and comfortable with their treatment plans. They encourage patients to report any adverse effects, enabling early intervention when necessary. Our pharmacists also will coordinate with any treating physician or doctor in response to patient feedback, to help formulate different approaches to treatment where it is needed to reduce harm and improve safety.
As we celebrate World Patient Safety Day, we want to emphasise the significance of this ongoing dialogue between us and our patients. This commitment to open, transparent communication contributes to improved health outcomes and ensures that every patient feels heard and valued as a vital partner in their healthcare journey.
If you are a patient or know someone needing medication, including those that are not available elsewhere, contact our pharmacy.
1. World Patient Safety Day 2023: Engaging Patients for Patient Safety (WHO, 2023 September 17) (https://tinyurl.com/mr49ks5j)