It is strange to us in the south west to hear the constant commentary on the woes of pharmacist oversupply. You see, we have the opposite challenge and the situation gets worse the further along the peninsular you travel.
This is particularly problematic because pharmacists in the area are keen to improve their clinical skills and to take on innovative new roles — for example, many pharmacists are moving into GP practices — which stretches our already tight resources.
Why are these clinical changes happening faster in the south west than in some other areas? I think it is because we — community and acute providers — recognised that we needed to work together, not only across pharmacy but across all healthcare professions. As a consequence, we now rarely bid for services as a community pharmacy and instead do this in partnership with general practice, and acute trusts collaborate across the profession before making changes.
This has started to lead to some real opportunities for us to change the role of pharmacy and we are pursuing this, but it is happening too slowly. We simply have too few clinical pharmacists to take advantage the opportunities we have.
Locally, we find it difficult to understand why we cannot attract more talented people to the south west. It is an idyllic part of the country with wages at the high end of the UK norm. Additionally, we are working at the cutting edge of clinical practice and can offer training and development through the support of Health Education South West.
So I say to those of you who feel doom is nigh and that there is limited scope to improve yourselves in clinical practice, it is not the case. The opportunities are here in the south west. If you are interested in joining us to drive forward a new future for pharmacy, contact one of the local acute trusts, community providers or community pharmacy groups — they would love to hear from you.