External duties

CPT consultants make a significant contribution to education and training, for example:

  • contributing to prescribing and therapeutics training in their hospital
  • contributing to prescribing and therapeutics training of medical students via universities
  • playing an instrumental role in the Prescribing Safety Assessment 
  • contributing to interprofessional learning
  • supervising PhD/MD students.

A report for the General Medical Council (GMC) published in 2008 found that medical graduates demonstrated ‘under-preparedness for prescribing’ and identified weaknesses ‘both in terms of their pharmacological knowledge and their understanding of the practical elements of prescribing’. Addressing this weakness was subsequently identified as priority for the GMC. In response, the British Pharmacological Society and Medical Schools Council developed the Prescribing Safety Assessment, which allows medical students to demonstrate their competencies in safe and effective prescribing via an online test.

CPT consultants bring innovation to the NHS, particularly in terms of experimental medicine. This describes investigation to understand mechanisms of disease or to demonstrate proof-of-concept of new therapies. As specialists in pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, clinical pharmacologists design trials and provide ongoing pharmacovigilance. Their expertise also allows them to:

  • lead in establishing NHS clinical research facilities
  • develop standard operating procedures
  • respond appropriately to regulation
  • engage with colleagues in the life sciences industry
  • provide overarching clinical support.

CPT units have established several clinical trials/experimental medicine units within NHS centres (eg Liverpool, Hammersmith) which attract commercial trials/income and foster the important relationship between the NHS and life sciences industry.

Many CPT consultants hold academic posts and conduct research to improve patient outcomes. Work undertaken by CPT consultants in academia covers a wide range of areas, from cardiovascular medicine to drug safety. Most research is translational and/or applied in nature, and has been demonstrated to benefit patients. For instance, many large hypertension trials have been led by clinical pharmacologists and have been instrumental in the guidance issued by NICE on hypertension.

Clinical pharmacologists are frequently involved in national advisory committees to develop policy for local NHS services and standards, particularly in terms of patient safety and clinical effectiveness. Specific organisations include:

  • MHRA – clinical pharmacologists are members and/or chairs of advisory committees, including the Commission on Human Medicines, which advises the MHRA on drug licensing and drug safety.
  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG) and the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) which advises on the clinical and cost-effectiveness of medicine.
  • CPT consultants also play a leading role on committees overseeing the publication of the British National Formulary (BNF) and the BNF for children.

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