I RECENTLY became a grandfather (twice) and have enjoyed meeting all the new parents who had children at the same time as my two daughters. Once they discover I am a pharmacist they are full of the praise for the help and assistance they have received from their local pharmacists.
The customer facing pharmacist role is hugely appreciated by the public and we need much more of it. Many working in the community will have received no difficulty in gaining the signatures for the recent National Pharmacy Association (NPA) petition from their appreciative customers. However, the plans for the NHS have a huge financial hole to be filled by efficiencies, better known as cuts. Pharmacists feel totally undervalued and the community pharmacy network feels under threat.
The short sightedness of Government in cutting funding to a profession which is acknowledged to be able to play a greater part in reducing pressures is massively frustrating. It would be very tempting at this junction for community pharmacy to pull up the clinical drawbridge, use the clinical roles as a bargaining chip and refuse to cooperate with any new initiatives.
However, although such an approach might feel good in the short term, it would be very short sighted. Now is the time to fully embrace the clinical roles and move away rapidly from a contract so heavily dependent on volume dispensing.
It has already happened in Canada, where pharmacists can prescribe medicines for common ailments and monitor and authorise repeats of existing prescriptions. In addition, they have dealt with our currently enormously frustrating situation by empowering pharmacists to modify and adapt a prescription to alter dose, formulation, regimen, or duration and complete missing information on the prescription. They have also agreed a raft of other services and provide emergency supplies of a prescribed medication to a patient.
As a profession we have so much more to offer the young parents of the future by delivering clinical pharmacy in the community. We need to start a different campaign. Not just to reverse the cutbacks, but to agree a viable clinical model for community pharmacy by 2020. Such a model would include pharmacist aspiration to deliver proactive clinical pharmacy services to patients and a clinically led successful business model for the community pharmacy of the future.
David Branford is a fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, a Faculty Fellow and independent pharmacy advisor. He is standing for election to the English Pharmacy Board
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