By Alexander Humphries*.

I don’t say this enough, but I love community pharmacy. OK, perhaps not quite as much when it is as tough as it has been recently, but for me it is all about people.

More professionally rewarding for me by far than any amount of clinical interventions or small day-to-day wins is when you can make a real difference to someone’s life. A few meaningful moments make all the other rubbish pale away – and so it has been for me of late.

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By NPA head of communications, Stephen Fishwick.

The NPA has released its ‘Face to face’ report and would like to your views.

Our ’face to face’ report is about the importance of local access and the human touch in healthcare. A number of policy and practice implications arise from this report, so we’d like to invite Pharmacy Magazine readers to give their views.

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By Ross Ferguson.

With the global sum for community pharmacy unchanged for 2017/18, we can all breathe a sigh of relief in Scotland.

After the conclusion of what Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) called “challenging discussions” with the Scottish Government, the community pharmacy global sum in Scotland remains unchanged at £178.359m for 2017/18. Compared to the situation in England, this seems somewhat more positive.

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By Mark Robinson, pharmacy lead at New NHS Alliance.

It may seem silly to talk about winter pressures in the middle of what is turning out to be a hot summer, but that is when planning should happen.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said last year “was the busiest winter ever within the NHS”. He went on to say: “The situation is unsustainable, and we must plan now to ensure we don’t put staff and patients under such intolerable pressure next year”.

The King’s Fund has produced reports showing the increased pressure in general practice. The BMA and the RCGP are both worried about how general practice, which is already in crisis, will again cope with another winter. NHS England seems to understand and has promised extra cash through the GP Forward View.

I am reliably told there will be another ‘Pharmacy First’ campaign that will try to explain to the population that they should visit a community pharmacy for a very wide range of conditions before seeing their GP or visiting out of hours or even urgent care services.

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By independent proprietor Graham Phillips.

Had there been any doubts about the deep antipathy Dr Keith Ridge, England’s chief pharmaceutical officer, appears to have towards community pharmacy, it was surely dispelled during last month’s CPO’s conference. He spoke for 20 minutes and only mentioned community pharmacy once (and not in a good way).

During his speech he went to great lengths to praise “clinical pharmacy practice” on a sector-by-sector basis, while omitting any mention of community pharmacy. But hey, I guess being 75 per cent of the profession, we are such a small minority interest group as to be insignificant.

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By Alexander Humphries.*

When the funding cuts were first announced, I’m sure that the Government and its civil servants were probably counting on the sector to grimly accept the situation and move on. Thank goodness our representatives have stood firm, even after the cuts have been implemented.

Having followed events in the High Court from afar, and been frankly disgusted by the totally derogatory comments from the Government chief lawyer about pharmacies selling sandwiches and the like, I can only think that this misguided view of our world might have flowed from the same pool of apparent antagonism that was on display at the recent chief pharmaceutical officer’s conference – from, erm, the chief pharmaceutical officer...

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By Gareth Jones, NPA public affairs manager.

A dangerous policy idea circulating in parts of Government right now is that local pharmacies can be replaced by an Amazon-style medicines service.

The cuts to pharmacy funding in England are consistent with a plan to significantly reduce local provision and introduce a superficially cheaper medicines supply service based on centralised, automated dispensing hubs.

This is predicated on the flawed view that pharmacy is just a distribution mechanism for product, rather than a valuable health and social care asset at the heart of local communities.

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By Ross Ferguson.

We all know that the NHS is in dire straits and having to make tough decisions. But the fact that around 40 per cent of CCGs have now withdrawn funding for one of the few things that actually help people with an autoimmune disease with a prevalence of 1 per cent is a national scandal. Not only that, but what have they replaced it with? Absolutely nothing.

And worse, the NHS is now threatening to completely remove funding altogether.

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By Professor Donald Cairns, head of school for pharmacy at Robert Gordon University.

Pharmacists need to fight back against the rise in anti-science. We are witnessing a rise in anti-scientific thinking. In America, President Donald Trump has appointed an adviser who denies climate change is caused by human activity. He has also appointed a health adviser who believes vaccines cause conditions such as autism.

Here in the UK, leading Conservative politician, Michael Gove, was quoted last year as saying he had “had enough of experts”, simply because the advice he received did not fit with his political views. Meanwhile, large sections of the media regularly publish articles promoting ‘natural’ non-evidence-based therapies, such as homeopathy, acupuncture and massage therapy.

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By Martin Hao and Quintus Liu from personal health technology firm Healthera.

Patient-centred technologies are likely to emerge as the next big trend for pharmacy in 2017. Many people already measure food intake or track activity on a daily basis with apps and gadgets but, to-date, there hasn’t been the same conscientious attitude towards medicines. This is expected to change going forward as pharmacies turn into digital ‘personal healthcare hubs’ and empower patients to make informed decisions about their medicines.

When pharmacists are asked what makes for better patient-centred care, answers vary greatly. At one end of the spectrum, the vast majority say “more staff”. This isn’t because there is an innate reluctance towards technology solutions, or a lack of awareness – it is because existing solutions have not really solved the problems.

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