Putting pharmacy on the right path - Ian Strachan

NPA Essential

Putting pharmacy on the right path - Ian Strachan

Campaign to secure your future

The latest situation from the NPA Chairman Ian Strachan

There are two possible futures for community pharmacy – one which makes the most of local pharmacies at the heart of the NHS and one in which locally based care gradually shrinks away and patients suffer the consequences. We are determined that community pharmacy gets on the right path.

Instead of focusing on the so-called ‘efficiencies’ of automation and online supply of medicines, the Government and the NHS should seek to maximize the benefits of accessible face-to-face care and local pharmacy premises, which are a tangible community asset. Local pharmacists can do much more to help people manage long-term conditions and also to take pressure off GPs and hospitals by offering convenient urgent care services. Sustained investment is needed to unlock pharmacies’ potential – not funding cuts that undermine it.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt appears to want to de-professionalise the supply of medicines, viewing them as just another commodity which can be delivered through mail order pharmacies. This is not what patients want and it is not what community pharmacy wants. Local pharmacies should not be put at risk by a flawed, centralised distribution model based on a false premise about the role of pharmacy and the nature of medicines. Local pharmacies are more than just a distribution point for medicines; and medicines are not ordinary items of commerce like tins of baked beans.

People want to see health care professionals face to face; the supply of medicines though the internet is in no way equivalent to the wide range of services you can get at local pharmacies.

The NPA is passionate about keeping pharmacies in communities and the ‘community’ in community pharmacy. We want to engage with officials on the implementation of a programme for change and improvement which builds on the strengths of our sector rather than seeks to dismantle it.

The effects of the funding cuts in England will hit us in March. I urge you to examine your numbers and review your wider business affairs, to make sure you are fit for the future. Get in touch with the NPA about the business services we offer – many of which are free of charge within your NPA membership package. Take a look at our Pharmacy Imposition pages at npa.co.uk/services, which will take you through the basics of the new arrangements and practical ways to respond in your business.

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