A fractured profession

Pharmacy is divided. This is true stretching back across my career and I safely assume before this. My first experiences of this were in university and it became obvious very early there were distinct boundaries and potential tension based on sector and setting of practice.

As the profession has developed over the last decade we are only seeing increases in disparate ways of working, a dilution of actual workforce across the different areas pharmacy works in, leading to individualised approaches based on the singular needs of one organisation. The alternative though is stark. Organisations are running on record vacancies, pharmacies are closing due to a lack of staff and it is predicted there won’t be enough pharmacists until ~2030.

Organisations are therefore being forced to be selfish in an attempt to attract staff. I am guilty of this too, but when such schemes and initiative work, it is a moment of celebration locally.

We need collaboration and we need to work together across sectors to find novel ways of working. There are obvious complexities such as the differing roles being undertaken and associated skills required to the employment status (NHS vs private), but from my own experiences this tends to be where the conversations stop. The changes to the degree and the foundation training over the next few years are a big step in the right direction, but we need to look at this holistically and with a long-term view and not as a tick box across sectors that needs to be completed before registration.

Local systems have a vital part to play to help integrate, ensure faculties are established and generate genuinely productive cross sector working. They do need steer and direction and the RPS as our professional body needs to provide that to aid and strengthen the profession further.

The power of pharmacy and therefore our ability to provide optimised care for our patients needs one clear direction that all of the profession work collaboratively towards. This simply isn’t the case presently but something we need to strive towards. As I reflect on the last twelve months we have seen the strength of other healthcare professions, their collective weight and their subsequent ability to affect change. This can be pharmacy, but not without a joined purpose across the different sectors and sites of work. One profession united with a shared cause benefits all.

Matthew Prior

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, May 2024, Vol 312, No 7985;312(7985)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2024.1.313232

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