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Will private pharmacy services burst your bubble?

  • by
Ross Ferguson


THERE’S no doubt that community pharmacists are capable of delivering a range of additional clinical services in their communities. These can be NHS services, or private services. I’m all for it.

However, it’s imperative that we don’t allow the desire to enhance our clinical image, and the necessity to fill the recent funding black hole in England, to cloud our judgement in deciding what private services to provide.

Let’s not make the same mistakes as the past and give people the opportunity to suggest we put profit before patients. Before being drawn into the heart-wrenching effects of worst case scenarios (the risk of which some services aim to reduce), you need to make a professional decision based on the current evidence and expert opinion. We need to think critically, not have knee jerk emotional reactions.

What’s the purpose of the service? Are there proven benefits? What about the risks? What does the evidence say? What about the experts?

Then you need to consider how it looks (to the public and the rest of the profession) if you are offering a private service that currently isn’t supported by evidence, and experts are unconvinced that the benefits outweigh the risks.

As a profession that prides itself on its science foundations, we can’t turn our principles off when it suits us. Evidence has to be our watchword: until the profession lives and breathes that, we are destined to be viewed suspiciously by those who see us as purveyors of sandwiches and shampoo.

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