Registrar’s Message: It’s Good to Be Back!
It’s hard to express how excited I am to finally be able to speak to you as the College’s new Registrar and CEO. I apologize it has taken me so long to write a Registrar’s message, but I “hit the ground sprinting” and haven’t looked back! I feel truly privileged to be back at the College and to have been given the opportunity to lead both the organization and the profession.
Let me start by thanking the Board for their ongoing trust and confidence. To those Board Members ending their terms in November, I thank you for your service and for championing public health and the delivery of safe and enhanced pharmacy care in British Columbia. And to our new and existing members, I am eager to collaborate with you in the years ahead.
The College has been hard at work on several initiatives that represent a major step forward in our ability to protect the public and to provide British Columbians with high quality pharmacy care.
I recognize that I have returned during a crucial inflection point within BC’s pharmacy profession, and the healthcare system as a whole. While we have made significant strides in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are also still dealing with another public health emergency in the toxic drug crisis that continues to pose extraordinary challenges for both patients and frontline health professionals alike.
And indeed, we have been working within our regulatory mandate to address these issues and develop strategies to increase access to Opioid Agonist Treatment for those with substance use disorder (SUD). In July, alongside the Registrars from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC and the BC College of Nurses and Midwives, I presented to the Select Standing Committee on Health, the progress already made by the College in addressing the toxic drug crisis and we recommended various strategies to improve SUD treatment within our health care system.
Additionally, as was recently announced, we have also been collaborating closely with our partners at the Ministry of Health and the BC Pharmacy Association to optimize the services available at community pharmacies to help alleviate our province’s primary care crisis. This included moving quickly to remove restrictions on adapting prescriptions and drug administration by injection and intranasal route; and extending prescription expiry dates from one year to two.
As part of these changes, we have also begun work to provide BC pharmacists with the authority to prescribe medications for minor ailments and contraception. As you may know, this initiative is the culmination of many years of work by many pharmacy professionals and represents a long tradition at the College of passion and dedication to enhancing safe pharmacy care for British Columbians.
Patient safety and public protection is the focus of every decision we make as a regulator. The government has recently introduced Bill 36 which will establish a new Health Professions and Occupations Act (HPOA), and which aspires to be patient-centric in its new approach to health profession regulation. The HPOA appears to bolster work already underway at the College by increasing accountability, transparency, and protection for vulnerable clients, as well as embedding a commitment to Cultural Safety and Humility within the province’s health regulatory framework.
Senior staff at the College, including our new General Counsel and policy and legislation leads are analysing the HPOA to assess the impact it will, or may have, on the practices of our registrants as well as on the operation and administration of the College.
At a minimum, this new legislation will have a monumental effect on the way the province governs and regulates health professionals in the public interest. As I write this message, the government is moving very quickly to enact these pivotal changes in what has been described as the largest legislative overhaul seen in decades. We will be sure to keep you informed of all upcoming developments as best we can.
There is still much work to be done, and certainly much more to be said. We will be working on ways to connect with you in the near future on a number of important initiatives including our updated organizational values and strategic plan, which I am excited to share with you in the coming weeks. I encourage you to get involved and reach out to us with any thoughts or concerns you may have.
Exciting times are ahead! As we continue to build on these initiatives and work toward a safer healthcare system for British Columbians, I’d like to thank all of you, our registrants, for your unwavering commitment to protecting the public and providing high-quality pharmacy care.
Suzanne Solven, Registrar and CEO
College of Pharmacists of British Columbia