Community pharmacy is the lifeblood of pharmacy and it breaks my heart to see the strain and pain the sector is under. Closures, shortages, abuse and chronic underfunding. People only have so much resilience, before they snap. I don’t need to write about how it is because you are living it, you will know people who are living it, or you will have watched it on the news and read about it in the papers.
When the contract was first announced, I applauded alignment with the GP contract and the promise of more clinical services. Shared objectives and a clinical future are progressive enablers. However, five years of flat funding will form an embolus that threatens to occlude the supply function of the NHS in the heart of communities everywhere. The PSNC is attempting to renegotiate at this very moment but there seems little chance of any uplift. While the RPS is not a trade union, perhaps it needs to take a more assertive approach in collaboration with other pharmacy bodies to increase awareness of the crisis in which we find ourselves. Let’s bring some pressure to bear on Westminster while pharmacies are recognised as the most trusted health sector by the public.
I may now spend the majority of my time in general practice but I still work in and very closely with community pharmacy. The mission of a primary care network is to improve the health of its population. It cannot be done unilaterally and involves collaborating with local providers. But the pressure in the system is hindering the ability to unlock the potential of community pharmacy and the power of collaboration. We work well together but when pharmacies are struggling to remain open, how can we add any cherries on top?
The RPS needs to keep an eye on the future but it cannot ignore the unfolding crisis. To put pharmacy at the forefront of healthcare, community pharmacy must take centre stage. If the dominoes continue to fall, it threatens the entire elaborate health ecosystem. As a member of the English Pharmacy Board, my priority will be to understand what pharmacists need from their RPS and bring that to life. I am passionate about all of pharmacy, believe we are stronger together, and seek to understand, build bridges and solve our shared challenges. Lend me your vote, and I will give you my ear and my voice.
Brendon Jiang, English Pharmacy Board candidate