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Editor's view: Day Lewis leadership puts RPS to shame

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Editor's view: Day Lewis leadership puts RPS to shame

Some things need to be said no matter how painful, because staying silent can be more damaging.

So, when Day Lewis executive director Jay Patel issued a statement two days after the official launch of the pharmacy contraception service insisting his company would not roll it out until government funding improved, I thought: “Sock it to them!” A line needed to be drawn.

There’s a double-edged risk, of course, when you say you won’t provide a service because of financial constraints. One is the impact of that decision on patients. Two, it could play into the government’s hands – ‘how can we negotiate with community pharmacy when some pharmacies refuse to meet patients’ needs?' they might plead.

Perhaps this has crossed the mind of PSNC chief executive Janet Morrison as she tries to stand her ground with Number 10. Personally, I found Patel’s statement inspiring. Community pharmacy now needs to make strong policy statements.

Credit too to the National Pharmacy Association for urging its members and NHS England to “pause and reflect” before continuing to implement the service which will be funded from pharmacy’s existing global sum, not by new money, as Patel alluded to.

I was dissatisfied with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, however. When it comes to showing decisive leadership, I thought it fell short. We asked it two specific questions; ‘Does it think its members should provide the service given the financial implications for pharmacy as a whole?’ And ‘has it contacted its members to advise them?’

It didn’t answer those questions directly. Instead, it said it recognised “pharmacists are under huge pressure, many are at breaking point.” It said “adding more pressure isn’t sustainable” and insisted it didn’t “shy away from calling that out.” It also said “additional government funding and technology” is needed to support the service. They weren’t wrong statements. They were just obvious statements.

Maybe the RPS didn’t want to rock the boat by alienating some of its members. Perhaps they feel it’s not their place to comment on contractual disputes, which is how this is being framed. I just wanted a bit more from them.

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