Everybody wants more for less. Employers want pharmacists to offer more services but give us fewer staff. The government want us to make “efficiency savings” yet offer expertise without remuneration. Locum agencies are offering bookings at £16 an hour instead of actively promoting our skills to potential clients. Doctors are expecting practice pharmacists to sign prescriptions, run clinics, promote cost-effective prescribing, manage repeat requests, etc, but only pay a fraction of what they would give to a locum GP. Enough is enough!
What I took away from the recent update to the five-year forward view plan from NHS England and the court case around community pharmacy funding is that the future mapped out for community pharmacy is bleak, no matter how loud we shout about the savings to the NHS pharmacy currently delivers. There is a harsh reality looming. Pharmacy must change to survive. This change cannot be a gradual evolution. A process more akin to metamorphosis is required.
There is, however, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity on the horizon. We know that there are currently not enough GP’s and that accident and emergency departments are stretched to breaking point. Pharmacy needs to be the solution. We could have two, three, four or more practice pharmacists in every surgery at varying grades with clear career progression and defined job roles. We need to work together to enhance the funding for community pharmacy through nationally commissioned, properly funded services within our community pharmacy network. Services which plug the gap in under-staffed GP surgeries and overstretched A&E departments.
We need to be urgently developing new opportunities to utilise the untapped resources within community pharmacies. We need to be engaging with NHS England and sustainability and transformation plans with our leadership and professional body forcing community pharmacy into the conversation.
What is needed now is our professional body banging on the doors of the powers that be rather than whispering from the sidelines. If elected to the English Pharmacy Board then that is exactly what I intend to drive. The result could be a stronger, more fulfilled and enriched role for community pharmacists and GP pharmacists. A role where the fantastic work we do is recognised not just by our patients but also by NHS England. If elected, you definitely will not have to ask me to work harder to drive this agenda!
Election Candidate, English Pharmacy Board, Royal Pharmaceutical Society
The candidate letters for the RPS national pharmacy board elections have not been edited by The Pharmaceutical Journal