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Let’s all build on partnerships

By NPA head of communications Stephen Fishwick The road to success is rarely one taken alone. That is why the vast majority of independent pharmacies choose to be members of the National Pharmacy Association. For nearly 100 years, we have brought community pharmacists together, to pool resources, learn from each other and move forwards together. In tough times the sector needs to stick together to develop solutions that benefit everyone and underpin progress at scale. That’s why we’ve chosen Forwards in Partnership as the theme for our national conference in Manchester on June 20. The conference is a collaboration between the NPA and Pharmacy Magazine, so the idea of partnership is at the very heart of arrangements.

Insight: Driving me mad

By Alexander Humphries* Our main wholesaler has now missed four afternoon deliveries in a fortnight. Twenty per cent of our deliveries have failed to arrive as a result. Our business, like every other pharmacy, relies on a just-intime supply chain, meaning that when things go wrong it immediately causes us a problem. Work starts to back up and patients are kept waiting for their medicines. When we complain to the driver, he tells us that the reason he misses us out is that his employer will not pay him overtime in order to complete his deliveries. This is unbelievable as we’re talking about a multi-billionpound organisation here, but it just shows, if true, how much contempt there is for us as customers.

Insight: At breaking point

By Alexander Humphries The last month or so has been one of the toughest times I have ever known in pharmacy. My team is at breaking point and a wave of staff sickness has left our service hanging by a thread...

NPA view: Medicines costs having “critical” impact

Many NPA members are paying out more in bills to wholesalers than they are being reimbursed by the NHS

Stockpiling warnings: Fix the bigger problem

By Alexander Humphries* Whatever you think about Brexit, it is going to do nothing to improve the medicines supply chain. Every other business sector in the UK is being advised to make preparations for a no-deal situation, but in community pharmacy we have our hands tied behind our backs because we’ve been told not to stockpile. In fact, pharmacies should have been slowly building a buffer for a long time, because it is obvious our civil servants couldn’t organise a proverbial in a brewery. I’ve had not one, not two but three letters warning me that consequences will follow for anyone daring to disobey the teacher on this issue.

Where next for the NHS Long-Term Plan?

By Royal Pharmaceutical Society England board chair Sandra Gidley As the dust settles from the publication of the long-awaited NHS Long-Term Plan, many across the profession will be looking to what it means in practice. There are certainly opportunities for pharmacy, but it would be fair to say some in the community sector will be wondering what happens next. Pharmacists certainly featured more than ever before and it was great to see NHS England recognise how central their skills will be to meeting its ambitions around patient safety and delivering better value from the billions of pounds spent on medicines each year.

NHS plan: more detail needed

By Gareth Jones, NPA head of corporate affairs “I’ve just seen this NHS plan... and we’re not in it,” is how one NPA member reacted when the 10-year plan was published. While it is true there are few references to community pharmacy specifically, there is a lot about community-based services, medicines, workforce, urgent care and prevention, which are all areas inherently in our sector’s sphere of interest.

Opinion: Supply and demands in the dispensary

By Alexander Humphries* Recently one morning, I found myself at the pharmacy counter helping a customer. She made some throwaway comment about everything getting more difficult because of Brexit. The next thing I know, the customer two back in the queue pipes up that “it was about time too”. I watched her blood pressure rise as she began a polemic against every “foreign influence” on the country and society. This was really uncomfortable to watch because the poor lady I was serving really wasn’t launching into a political speech, rather simply making idle conversation.

We all need to be HEARD

By NPA head of communications Stephen Fishwick When you’re ‘pitching’ community pharmacy solutions to commissioners, policymakers, patients, politicians and others, pharmacy’s ‘access story’ is often a good place to start. Where else in the health service can you simply walk in off the street and get access to professional healthcare advice in a matter of minutes, usually without an appointment? There’s also a great story to tell on prevention, public health and ‘making every contact count’. In fact, there is so much we can say – and do say – about the benefits of pharmacy that our messages can become rather cluttered if we’re not careful.

GP referrals: Helping, not hindering

We have received a letter from one of the local GP practices bemoaning the fact that we have been referring patients to them who needed to be seen urgently, a pharmacist writes

Scotland strategy bearing fruit

By Ross Ferguson Something that caught the eye of many colleagues in England was the announcement that the Scottish Government was providing dedicated funding for the Additional Cost of Teaching (ACT) of experiential learning (EL) for pharmacy undergraduates for 2018-19. The hope is that this fantastic and pragmatic initiative will not only reimburse the costs involved, but that it will help to expand and enhance the quality of EL in hospital, community and primary care.

Insight: Govt warns against stockpiling but many pharmacies see no other option

By Alexander Humphries* As I write this I am sitting in my bunker surrounded by boxes of stock. I know we have been told not to stockpile but to my mind it is a case of ‘needs must’ for my patients...

Numark MD’s five-point plan for community pharmacy

By Jeremy Meader, managing director of Numark Does NHS England or the Department of Health and Social Care recognise and appreciate fully the contribution of community pharmacy? We all know the answer to that, but actually it is the wrong question. What we need to ask is how we can change that dynamic, move forward and secure a future that is financially sustainable, improves outcomes for patients and demonstrably helps the NHS address the huge challenges it faces.

Welsh CPhO: Pharmacy must play to its strengths

By Andrew Evans, chief pharmaceutical officer for Welsh Government Independent community pharmacy understands the needs of communities because it is part of those communities – but there are very real threats to its future. These threats are not from governments, automation, hub-and-spoke, changes in supervision, or clinical pharmacists in GP practices – believe it or not, these are opportunities. The threats don’t even come from Brexit. The real threat is a change in consumer behaviour and a failure of pharmacies to adapt to that change. We are mistaken if we believe citizens will continue to access pharmacies in the same way and for the same reasons they do now.

Prevention is the way forward

By NPA policy manager Helga Mangion The Government has said ‘prevention is better than cure’ will be at the heart of the NHS Long-Term Plan. A key goal will be to improve healthy life expectancy by at least five extra years by 2035 and to close the gap between the richest and poorest. That closely resembles one of the acid tests the NPA recently set out for the Long-Term NHS Plan, namely – will the poorest patients and communities benefit from the new investment promised? Other success criteria suggested by the NPA for the long-term plan seem to find a mirror in the vision document that accompanied Mr Hancock’s speech.

Insight: Behaviour gone bad

By Alexander Humphries Last week I decided to confront one of my most difficult patients. It was not an easy thing to do but it was necessary – and the outcome was rather surprising...

Don’t make us an afterthought

By Stephen Fishwick, head of communications, National Pharmacy Association The scope of the new NHS 10-year plan will be wide-ranging, addressing priorities from ‘putting the patient at the heart of how we organise care’ to harnessing the power of innovation and empowering the healthcare workforce. There will also be a focus on prevention and achieving ‘true parity’ of care between mental and physical health. Pharmacy has lots to offer in all these areas. That is why one of the acid tests of the long-term plan should be this: Come the NHS’s 80th birthday, 10 years from now, will the potential of the entire health and social care workforce have been realised – not only doctors and nurses but local pharmacists and many others too?

Home deliveries need not break the bank

There are so many ways you can save money when you offer a home delivery service, says Aberystwyth pharmacist Gary Jones, developer of the Pro Delivery Manager (PDM) app

NICE touch – but will NHS England listen?

Will the recent NICE guidance, which focuses on how community pharmacies can help maintain and improve people’s physical and mental health, also focus the minds of NHS England and Public Health England? Mike Holden from Pharmacy Complete hopes so

Insight: Reasons to be cheerful

By Alexander Humphries I am refreshed and raring to go after the summer holidays. Apart from the next six months being hellish regarding the comings and goings of staff as they continue their personal journeys of maternity leave, promotion, leavers and new starters, there is plenty to be optimistic about. For a start, we apparently have a Secretary of State who wants to invest in pharmacy – at least until his civil servants get their hooks into him. This is something we haven’t had in a very long time. I feel optimistic, as I always have been, that Government and NHS England are running out of time and options for getting a grip on the health service.

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