MAYBE in 10 years’ time (or sooner) I’ll look back at a thriving community pharmacy network and cringe at what I’m about to write, but I worry that everyone and his aunt is welcoming in the new era of pharmacists in GP practices as the saviour of the NHS, while the poor relatives, community pharmacists, continue on with their thankless task of providing support to local communities.
I’m impressed by the scope and scale of the work that pharmacists can do in GP practices as detailed in Ravi Sharma’s blog. But, what seems to have raised this role above the norm and has sparked the attention of pharmacists, the investment of the NHS and the enthusiasm of pharmacy bodies, is really the location – GP practices: the inner sanctum, the backbone of the NHS, the NHS gatekeepers – take your pick.
Yes, it’s a dynamic (sexy), interesting and important role, but all these roles can be performed in the pharmacy by community pharmacists with appropriate training, IT and use of skills mix. So why don’t we whip up some excitement about that?
It’s easy to get caught up in the zeitgeist, as educational organisations and private companies produce training materials and courses to support these intrepid pharmacists as they launch themselves across the boundaries of primary care. I’m not arguing against the role, and I know there is potential for them to forge stronger links with community pharmacy.
I am, however, suggesting that more convenient locations for patients might be found within the existing community pharmacy network. We should be aiming to make that happen using the same enthusiasm, instead of eagerly holding onto the coat tails of the emperor’s new clothes while bearing witness to the slow demise of an ageing relative.
Perhaps it’s time to start a new campaign: GPs in pharmacies.
Ross Ferguson is an ex-contractor, has been lead community pharmacist and pharmacy champion for a CHP in Scotland, a member of the contractors’ committee and also has experience as a locum and an employee pharmacist. He is a pharmacy & healthcare writer, member of the RPS Faculty and has created a children’s medicines app, Kid-Dose.
Follow Ross @rosshferguson