At a time when all we seem to hear about is moaning medics, it is good to be able to report on a pharmacist who takes a pride in his work and how he goes out of his way to serve his community. And a pharmacist, too, who does not regard running his pharmacy as going to work because he enjoys it so much. I am referring to Zafar Khan, who has been operating a 24-hour pharmacy in south-west London for a couple of decades. Zafar featured in a heart-warming segment on BBC’s The One Show on April 14.
He did not go so far as to say that he enjoyed his job so much he would do it for nothing – which is just as well, at a time when a swingeing cut in the global sum is in the offing – but the satisfaction he gains from the service he is able to provide clearly adds greatly to any financial reward. Among points he made were: pharmacies had great accessibility; they could do much more to take the burden off accident and emergency departments (he is seen applying a sterile dressing to a grazed knee); and they were capable of a wider role within the NHS generally. His work has earned him public respect and gratitude. Some have even thanked him for being a life-saver, as he reported with a degree of emotion at the end of the piece. Interestingly, although the impending remuneration cut was mentioned it was not developed.
One of the strengths of the Society before it lost regulation was the branch system. It enabled pharmacists to meet locally, and get to know each other as well as learn through educational meetings. When the split came, it was judged that the branches should be replaced by local practice forums covering wider areas. My local branch along with neighbours was replaced by the south-east London LPF. Now this LPF has merged with its south-west London equivalent to become RPS South London. Any pretence at being local has been lost.
We feature in this issue a Scottish trailblazer for clinical pharmacy: Bernadette Brown of Cadham Pharmacy in Glenrothes. Bernadette embodies in her work the official NHS policy in Scotland, which wants every patient in the country to have the services of a prescribing clinical pharmacist. Bernadette is an independent prescriber who runs clinics in her pharmacy and a local surgery in association with local GPs.
Bernadette gets on famously with these GPs and works hand in glove with them. The key to the future for pharmacists like Bernadette is funding. She has it at the moment and is concerned that it might dry up as the emphasis changes on funding for pharmacists working with GPs. Fortunately, Rose Marie Parr, the Scottish chief pharmaceutical officer, recognises that pharmacists like Bernadette, who provide clinics in their pharmacies, need encouragement. Hopefully, health boards, which control the money, will play ball.
This is something that is vitally important in my view.
The new clinical pharmacists should be firmly based in pharmacies, helping to secure a future for the community pharmacy network. If they all end up in doctors’ surgeries, it will be to the detriment of that network – and to patients too, who value the improved access that having services available at pharmacies provides.
Many old stagers at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society will be saddened by the news that Lord Peston (“Maurice” to his many friends) has died. A distinguished economist, he was a member of the committee of inquiry that produced the Nuffield report on pharmacy in 1986 and subsequently became a member of the Society’s Council as a Privy Council nominee. He was at one time a bit of a pharmacy sceptic but soon became a committed believer in the value and potential of the profession. He was a powerful speaker and everyone paid attention when he rose to his feet. Maurice Peston was a true friend of pharmacy.