Emma McDougall is a Macmillan Integrated Senior Clinical Pharmacist in Palliative Care. Here she explains more about the role
My role is all about making sure patients within the palliative care service get the most from their medication, either by direct patient reviews or advising other colleagues.
It’s a pretty unique role that provides much more personalised care in relation to medicines and lets us create a more bespoke medication treatment plan.
I also offer counselling, support and advice about medicines and help identify some realistic expectations for people about what their prescribed drugs can achieve.
I’m an integrated member of the Palliative Care multi-disciplinary team and work across all parts of the service in Northumberland. This includes the Palliative Care Unit, the Hospital Liaison Team on acute wards and out in the wider community.
This means I’m involved with patients’ care wherever they are located; crossing healthcare boundaries, providing continuity and following up on management plans.
This saves consultant time, enabling them to focus on the most complex patients, but I can also address complex medication queries and support other healthcare professionals
As an Independent Prescriber I can action any medication changes myself, making sure patients’ symptoms are dealt with as efficiently and quickly as possible.
I also take part in quality improvement projects, develop guidelines and provide education for other healthcare staff.
Some of my time is spent supervising colleagues who are undertaking their Non-Medical Prescribing Qualification and mentoring them through the course.
I’m currently working on a Quality Improvement Project, looking at the process of de-prescribing (stopping unnecessary and problematic medication) for our patients. The aim would be to reduce the amount of medications patients take where possible, in order to prevent adverse effects and ultimately improve quality of life.
I’ve also been working with a company that provide templates for SystemOne, in order to adapt their End of Life Care template that is used in some GP Practices in the region, to make sure prescribing practices within the template fit with our local guidance.
COVID-19 has been a huge challenge, particularly at the beginning of the pandemic, as there were a lot of guidelines to develop and situations to plan for, specifically with regards to the availability of medication and management of symptoms.
Being prepared at the beginning means we now have all of the processes and guidance in place, should we need to use it again. The speed at which guidelines and processes were put in place was outstanding. Everyone truly pulled together and supported each other. It makes me proud to work in such a fantastic organisation.