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Maiya Ahmed, founder of Global Allied Solutions and paediatric clinical pharmacist specialist from the U.K. attended the recent annual GCC Pharmacy conference in Dubai, U.A.E. which took place on the 31st of October and 1st of November 2016.

Now in its third year, the GCC conference organised by Maarefah events and supported by the Ministry of Health UAE focused on the advancement of pharmacy practice in the region with a particular focus on clinical pharmacy (predominately hospital pharmacy) and community pharmacy. The conference was split into two streams, hospital and community practice and attracted pharmacists from across the GCC region (Gulf Cooperation Council) with representatives, speakers and participants from the U.A.E, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

It was both interesting and inspiring to see what is currently being done in the region to enhance pharmacy services and the real dedication for the improvement of patient centric practice, reinforcing the need to review services from a patient perspective. Subsequently, much of the discussions focused on changing the way we approach healthcare delivery and on ensuring patient safety, education and satisfaction is achieved. Changing our etiquette of behaviour and language in day to day practice was discussed and was something that although would seemingly be obvious was nevertheless interesting to discuss, in particular differences in details of communication variables for the region.

The need for standardised practice across the region was touched upon several times in different presentations and was also evident to myself being a pharmacist not practising in the region. It was obvious that different hospitals had different clinical pharmacy practices and standards of practice, ranging from a very robust clinical pharmacy delivery to minimal clinical pharmacy to complete lack of clinical pharmacy. Although arguably one can suggest that all pharmacy graduates working in some capacity in patient care are clinical pharmacists.

Some of the presentations from pharmacy departments showcasing what is currently taking place in their departments and their vision was very impressive, in particular the work done around antimicrobial stewardship. In addition, some hospitals are using Clinical Decision Support Systems (CDSS) to provide a more concise method of drug administration, prescribing and medical information.

Medicines reconciliation was a topic which generated much dialogue and was discussed in a panel setting whereby different hospital pharmacy managers shared their opinions of ‘Who’s responsibility is medicine’s reconciliation?’ The discussion involved viewpoints from different hospitals on their current practice and on their experiences on medical doctors and nurses being involved in the medication reconciliation.

The subsequent benefits and limitations of these medical professionals conducting medication reconciliation in place of pharmacists particularly during out of hours was interesting and gave much food for thought. Ensuring that a complete medication history of patients current and former medication is documented is an issue in particular as there is no set IT system that is accessible to all healthcare providers, and which can be used to check which medication was prescribed at any given clinic. This can lead to an incomplete medication history and a potential issue in current prescribing in particular when previous regular medication and one off medications used in the past are not taken into consideration for the patient’s current treatment.

The conference took place over two days and although it was difficult to attend both streams the presentations and discussions taking part in the hospital stream were thought provoking, practical and relevant to the practice in the region. The next conference takes place on the 19th-21st October 2017, details on the website at www.gccpharmacongress.com

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