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 But the fact that around 40 per cent of CCGs have now withdrawn funding for one of the few things that actually help people with an autoimmune disease with a prevalence of 1 per cent is a national scandal.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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By Cormac Tobin, managing director of Celesio UK.

Everyone working in community pharmacy should become a dementia friend to support those with this devastating condition. Figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal that dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are now the biggest cause of death in England and Wales after jumping by a fifth in a single year.

It is a scary word, dementia. Over 850,000 people in the UK are living with the condition, and that is projected to grow to over one million by 2025. It is an increasing concern and many of us have seen the impact it can have on our loved ones. In the past there has been a misconception about what dementia actually is.

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By Andrew McCoig, chief executive officer of Merton, Sutton & Wandsworth and Croydon LPCs.

Public health commissioning is becoming a farce, with all the professional expertise out there in danger of being replaced... by an app.

Back in 2015, George Osborne (the then Chancellor of the Exchequer) announced that while he was protecting the “NHS spend” on health, he would not extend that protection to the public health budgets of local authorities. Consequently, he determined that £200m would be removed from those budget allocations across England and Wales. This equates to an average sum of £1.15m per local authority.

Faced with such a draconian and peremptory financial blow, public health departments have had to drastically rethink how they spend their shrinking pots of money.

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By Celesio UK managing director, Cormac Tobin.

The new minister responsible for pharmacy, David Mowat, has said that the principles outlined in the Community Pharmacy Forward View were ’spot on’ and acknowledged the fact there is a big contribution pharmacy can make in areas such as long-term conditions. I believe this is a positive step to move us forward.

I know that community pharmacy is a vital asset to the NHS, especially at a time when it is facing unprecedented demands, and we need to work together to make the Forward View a reality.

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By Stephen Fishwick, NPA head of communications.

I was intrigued recently to find in the NPA basement a photograph of ‘Bradd The Cure Bear’, the cuddly mascot of an Ask Your Pharmacist campaign roadshow 20 years ago. Apparently Bradd provided educational entertainment for young shoppers by performing a special show on pharmaceutical safety. Whilst Bradd seems to have gone into hibernation, the Ask Your Pharmacist initiative has continued in various guises ever since.

This year’s Ask Your Pharmacist Week will take place November 7-14 with the theme More Than Medicines. Organised by the National Pharmacy Association, the week provides a platform for pharmacy public awareness activities across the UK. It also serves as a prompt for conversations with key stakeholders at a local level about community pharmacy services.

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