It is an uncertain time in pharmacy, although it has not always been this way. However, to an outsider, some pharmacists seem to be precipitating their own demise.
Some of the major pharmacy chains are considering closing many of their branches, but will those that remain stay on the high street, or will the pharmacy be a central dispensary miles away from the patient?
Some years ago, I moved house and received a letter urging me to sign up to a distant central dispensary. I replied that under no circumstances would I contemplate such a move because of the value I placed on the personal contact with the pharmacist who knew and understood my needs. I have recently experienced a service from my local pharmacy, without which I would not be able to relay these details.
I was seriously ill and, for a number of weeks, I was confined to home and relied on outside aid. Doctors attended and I contacted my local pharmacy — Paydens Pharmacy in Worthing — which provided a service beyond compare. Prescriptions were collected; medicines were delivered within the hour; and prescribed items were discussed with the prescriber and changed, where necessary. Also, towards the conclusion of my illness, the pharmacy team made follow-up telephone calls to ensure all was well.
I cannot imagine such a service being provided from afar; why dispense with a major asset of the profession and the very basis of its foundation?
Perhaps some might argue there is merit in the changes. Perhaps there should be one great dispensary in the sky, where everything is checked and controlled, where personalities do not come into it, and where no one knows the patient or their medical history. One contract and one supplier must mean economies of scale, and the Department of Health and Social Care could take full advantage; existing pharmacies may disappear or carry on as simple retail outlets. Some patients in the community might not survive the changes, but I fear that some might just see merit in that.
Bruce Rhodes, former pharmacist, Worthing, Sussex