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Spreading Medicines Partnership in the Professions

The Medicines Partnership Professional Development Programme
One of the Task Force's objectives is to incorporate concordance as a standard element in the education, training and development of all three 'prescribing professions'. Successful implementation of concordance is dependent on a significant change in the culture of professional practice in relation to prescribing and the monitoring of treatment. The relevant techniques are largely variants of the body of communications and consulting skills in health care that have been introduced and refined over the past decades. What is distinctive about concordance skills is the focus on prescribing and medicine taking, on the importance accorded to the patient's beliefs about the treatment, and on the consequent ethical issues.
Professional Development Update
We now have over 70 'Concordance Facilitators' across England, with professional development and training remits from medicine, pharmacy, nursing and patient backgrounds. They are testing out and exploring ways of promoting medicines concordance within their own learning and training contexts.
The induction into this role involved two, one-day workshops in 2003 to explore the definition of medicines concordance, reasons for 'doing it', skills to promote it and ideas for putting concordance into practice. This event was supported by 15 professionals leading and developing medicines concordance and its practical application in the UK.
Partnerships in Prescribing Training for GP Registrars
The second of two linked workshops for GP Registrars took place in January.  The main feature of the workshop was an opportunity for all participants to role play consultations with simulated patients, using case scenarios that featured a range of prescribing dilemmas.  The workshops were attended by two patients with long term health conditions, each of whom is a volunteer course leader for the Expert Patients Programme.  They were able to offer helpful and constructive feedback to the Registrars, which was greatly valued, and to tell the doctors about the EPP which seems likely to lead to increased referrals.  From mid June 2005, the course materials will be available to download here.
Shared Decision Making Features in Revised General Medical Council Guidance Booklet
The General Medical Council (GMC) has recently published a revised edition of its guidance booklet "The New Doctor", which is available to download from the website and will soon be available in print.  The revision of the booklet was put out for consultation and Medicines Partnership submitted suggested amendments to integrate shared decision making into the document.  We are pleased that most of our suggestions have been taken up so that concordance is now a theme that runs throughout "The New Doctor".  We hope that this will also be reflected in revisions to other GMC publications including "Good Medical Practice" which will soon be out for consultation.

Raising Awareness of Concordance Throughout an Strategic Health Authority (SHA)
Trent SHA held a multi-disciplinary day in February to inform participants about shared decision making.  After a number of presentations, participants broke into smaller group workshops to discuss and identify the barriers to implementing prescribing partnerships and to think about how this could be taken forward within the SHA.  Since the event, there have been proposals to develop some local team projects and discussions about collaboration with a university media department to develop a learning tool.
Prescriptions for Partnership Conference - September 2004
This event aimed to raise awareness of shared decision making; look at what it means for patient organisations; and to identify what support the voluntary health sector needs to ensure viable partnerships between prescribers and patients are formed and maintained.
Presentations looked at partnership from the point of view of patients, doctors and community pharmacists with speakers focusing on sharing prescribing decisions and looking at ways to improve medicines information. Small group discussions gave delegates the opportunity to explore the conference themes in more depth.
For more information and a chance to download the presentations please visit the conference webpage.
"Can We Help You?"
A joint project of Age Concern Blackburn with Darwen, Blackburn with Darwen PCT and Blackburn with Darwen Social Services with the purpose of identifying gaps in services and support for older people within the borough. The project involves an in depth interview covering all aspects of of life including health, housing, environment, transport, benefits, care and social activities.
Over 260 people have been interviewed to date and the results, with regards to medicines and health make interesting reading, find out more.