Photograph credit: Chris Watt Photography
Children’s Hospices Across Scotland – better known as CHAS and NHS Forth Valley have today officially launched CHAS Community Pharmacy Network, the first of its kind for children in the UK.

This unique community network will be piloted from January 2020 until December 2020. The network aims to support babies, children and young people (aged 0 to 21 years) with life-shortening conditions, and their families by providing timely access to specialist medicines and paediatric palliative care advice in their local community.

Encompassing 14 community pharmacies in Forth Valley, all of which are part of the existing adult palliative care network, this pilot will be regularly evaluated, helping shape the further development of community pharmacy-led services responsive to the needs of children with life-shortening conditions, and their families.

Photograph credit: Chris Watt Photography

Kate McCusker, a Lead Pharmacist at CHAS, said:

“Working alongside colleagues at NHS Forth Valley, we identified the important role that community pharmacy can play in delivering paediatric care services, improving the safe use of medicines for those children. As a consequence, an exciting new service has been developed with community pharmacists taking a leading role.

“The service will capitalise on the clinical expertise of community pharmacists, their unique accessible position within local communities and their reach across Forth Valley to improve access to specialist medicines and palliative care advice for healthcare professionals and parents who care for children with life-shortening conditions.”

A ground-breaking report published in 2018, Children in Scotland requiring Palliative Care (CHiSP2) identified that in Forth Valley alone there were 857 children with a life-shortening condition with only 36% of those having a stay within hospital or CHAS services.

Photograph credit: Chris Watt Photography

Anne Wilson, a Specialist Palliative Care Pharmacist at NHS Forth Valley, said:

“Inspiration for the CHAS Community Pharmacy Network came from two existing adult services that operate across Scotland, namely the NHS Forth Valley Palliative Care Community Pharmacy Network and the Scottish Palliative Care Pharmacists Association (SPCPA). 

“Children should have timely access to palliative care medicine and the 14 community pharmacists who are participating in the network are spread geographically across Forth Valley. They will hold key medication for palliative paediatric patients and help with any questions parents might have. The impact a community pharmacist can have on these patients in Forth Valley is extremely significant.”

Rose-Marie Parr, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer at the Scottish Government, said:

“This is a great example of person-centred care which we know from evidence can have a positive impact on health outcomes. Through this pilot, pharmacists will be trained in the delivery of pharmaceutical paediatric palliative care and can pro-actively support parents to safely manage their children’s changing medication requirements. This is tailored to the individual needs of the parent and child and addresses any emerging health literacy issues head-on”.

Once the Community Pharmacy Network has been established within Forth Valley, CHAS aims to spread this network across Scotland and explore how community and primary care-based pharmacists can provide a direct patient-facing medicines review and symptom control service for children with life-shortening conditions.

CHAS is the only charity in Scotland that provides hospice services for babies, children and young people with life-shortening conditions. The national charity offers palliative care and respite for the whole family via its two hospices, Rachel House in Kinross and Robin House in Balloch, and via its CHAS at Home service; supporting families in their own homes. CHAS also supports in clinical settings across the whole of Scotland through their Diana Children’s Nurses and in December 2019, CHAS launched a new Supportive and Palliative Care Team in the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow.