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The power of human stories


The power of human stories

Great lobbying and great advocacy is taking the voice of community pharmacy’s frontline and putting it to decision-makers, says National Pharmacy Association chair Nick Kaye...


Hope can be very dangerous. I’m sure it’s a line from The Shawshank Redemption but whether you are fortunate or unfortunate enough to be involved in pharmacy politics right now, it’s true to say that we spend time thinking about election cycles.

I hear all the time at this point in the election cycle ‘who is the best person to influence?’ And ‘who will care?’ And ‘what does that outcome look like for members and contractors and for the pharmacy profession widely?’

It’s true that this is the most effective time for lobbying as a sector or as an individual organisation because now is the time when politicians will want to impress the electorate by promising to support the things that everyone cares most about.

Pharmacy and medicines supply are certainly things everyday people care about. We know that all too well on the frontline when medicines are in short supply. But we also see that community pharmacy is a sector that is regarded highly by the public, and the thing that fascinates me about lobbying at this particular time is that all the organisations, of which we are all members, can and should be working together and coalescing around a joined-up message.

It is true that organisations have different nuances as they represent their individual membership. However, it is great to see that there must be some key messages which we can all agree on and we have to concentrate on the 95 per cent of things we can agree on rather than the five per cent of things we don’t.

An increase in funding and making the network sustainable and resilient in the short to medium term are things everyone can and must agree on. It is true that every organisation that is fighting for its members wants to be seen as the one that is leading the charge and driving good things.

A need for recognition is valid but it is great to see when people and groups come together. This is something that we have to work on as a sector together to make sure that at this point in the political cycle, community pharmacy’s voice is heard and amplified to maximum effect.

We might say ‘well, it is obvious we should do this and that’ but it is the human story of why we should do something that makes an impact. As chair of the NPA and CEO of Community Pharmacy Cornwall, I unfortunately get calls time and time again from contractors, which I can relate to, about the change in their finances, the way people are putting their own livelihoods and futures at risk by mortgaging their houses, cashing in pensions to stay afloat.

They ask me when things will get better. Those calls are the hardest to hear but they are also the most important to hold on to because you represent the sector nationally or locally.

I cannot tell you the level of responsibility I feel in trying to get those voices heard, whether that’s at Number 10 or in front of department key figures. The authentic view from the frontline is key to the things we hope to aspire.

Great lobbying and great advocacy takes the voice of the frontline, the voice of realism, the authenticity of the every day, and puts that front and centre to people who make decisions and speak the truth. ‘Using power’ is a phrase that may be overused but this is what I do day in, day out.

And yet we have to be realistic about the general place the country is in and how much more money can be spent on community pharmacy. At this point, it’s so important to reiterate that again and again, all across the four nations of the UK, your teams step up and deliver to look after the communities you serve. And the successful delivery of Pharmacy First in England is being seen and recognised, so thank you and well done.

We must continue to work together as a sector to push forward and shine a light on what you and your teams deliver every day – great frontline healthcare that is patient-centred, including supplying the vital medicines our society needs.

‘Hope’ may be a dangerous word but now more than ever, hope of a more sustainable future for community pharmacy is what keeps me going.


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




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