The year 2016 was a great year for community pharmacy. But it was also a terrible one. The profession must understandably feel dazed and confused as it staggers into 2017. This time last year, community pharmacists were trying to get their heads round the funding cuts announced, apparently out of the blue, the month before. But with a consultation on the issue still to come, and positive noises aplenty about the profession’s potential, it seemed likely that a good case could be made against the cuts.
And, oh what a great case was made. Over 2 million people signed a petition in support of their local pharmacy, significant numbers of politicians claimed to see the light, and PwC demonstrated that pharmacy is worth £3bn a year for delivering only 12 of its services. Who could argue against all that?
NHS England didn’t even bother arguing, simply ignored the evidence and made the cuts anyway. Meanwhile, positive mood music continues to play in the background ...
Pharmacy’s role in public health has never been more important, says Public Health England in its Building Capacity report. It even identifies the barriers that prevent pharmacists developing their role in this area. The long-awaited Murray Review calls for renewed efforts to build on pharmacy’s potential and makes some commonsense recommendations for developing services. Well, tell us something new.
And then, as if things weren’t bad enough already, the infighting began as the NPA announced its split with Pharmacy Voice. Whatever the outcome of last year’s efforts, it’s difficult to argue that PV didn’t do a good job – for both independents and multiples. We can only hope that the NPA achieves more for independents on its own. Perhaps optimism is the only way forward.