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A new year and new opportunities


A new year and new opportunities

It is not always easy to be optimistic after everything we’ve been through but we must look forward with hope, says Nick Kaye

So here we are at the start of 2022. The New Year is a good opportunity to reflect on the past 12 months and look forward to the year ahead. What can we be optimistic about? What opportunities are there for the year ahead? And what has happened over the past year for you to be thankful for?

For me, it is family with the arrival of my first daughter. Bless her, she is the youngest of five, so I pity her future partners! In the world of pharmacy, our team has dealt with staffing challenges, delivery challenges including the delivery of medicines and, of course, lateral flow tests. I long for the day LFT goes back to meaning liver function test!

But after all is said and done, we have come through 2021 and the communities we serve are the better for having us there. So as we leave the old year behind, I feel proud of my team and our whole profession. Yes, it’s been a tough year, mentally and physically. I recently heard a pharmacist I admire hugely say: ‘it hard to be a pharmacy hero every day’, and you know what, she was right. It is hard.

Does that mean, as we look to the future, that we can rely on the optimism this time of year normally brings? Well, optimism is hard to come to come by right now, what with questions around charges for lateral flow tests and the consultation on increasing the prescription charge age for those living in England.

Then there is the ongoing cycle of vaccinations but in Cornwall, I am pleased to say, we have an exciting new service - a walk-in pharmacist consultation service. As part of this, our local clinical commissioning group has agreed with our LPC to fund up to 10,000 appointments up to the end of March. The service connects us back into the wider healthcare system and I hope it will be seen as a valuable addition in bolstering the system’s clinical capacity.

I have written before about commissioners being brave and looking at community pharmacy as a partner in care delivery, and this is a great step in the right direction.

The service also reminds me why I love my job. As the Responsible Pharmacist, I recently did five of these consultations. Two patients had urinary tract infections which I was able to treat using a local PGD. There was also one child with an infected eye, and another who had been having problems with constipation and not getting anywhere with the consultant team.

Finally there was a gentleman who had been trying to get a follow-up appointment with his GP. As the practice has been so busy, he had struggled to get an appointment although he had been coughing up blood for a couple of months, on and off.

All of these patients left happy with the outcomes we managed to achieve for them in the consultation room and all will now have an entry in their GP notes, allowing that clinical team to make better decisions. Professionally, it felt very rewarding. Those are just some of my experiences and I know they will be replicated across pharmacies up and down the county but it’s great that in Cornwall, we are being recognised for doing this kind of work. So am I optimistic for the year ahead?

Well, I hope Covid will fade into the background and life returns to something approaching normal and that community pharmacy will be further recognised for the work it does.


Nick Kaye is a community pharmacist based in Newquay and vice-chair of the National Pharmacy Association. These are his personal views.

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