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By Richard Thomas, editor, Pharmacy Magazine

Regulation is an expensive business these days, it would appear, if the GPhC’s proposal to raise the annual premises fee by nearly 40 per cent is anything to go by.

What caught our eye was a finding buried in the accompanying impact assessment, which suggested that over half the pharmacies in the research sample are operating at a deficit. Confirmation, if any were needed, that the pharmacy sector is “demonstrating a notable fragility” (in the words of Ernst & Young) was provided by a slew of headlines in recent weeks concerning the financial tribulations of Boots, LloydsPharmacy and Pharmacy2U.

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By Richard Thomas, editor, Pharmacy Magazine

It is a well established principle that continuity of care – seeing the same health professional over time – improves patient outcomes. It is something pharmacists, embedded in their local communities, instinctively recognise in their day-to-day practice.

Commissioners understand this as well. In Wales, for example, the chief pharmacist Andrew Evans has said on several occasions that the NHS should value continuity and reward those pharmacies that deliver it.

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By Richard Thomas, editor, Pharmacy Magazine

Is the new contractual framework in England a good deal or a bad one for community pharmacy?

Rather like Orthrus, the two-headed dog in Greek mythology with each head pointing in a different direction, there are two diametrically opposed views on this. Both are represented in this issue, from “total disaster” on the one hand to “best hope of changing our fortunes” on the other.

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By Richard Thomas, Editor, Pharmacy Magazine

The contract talks between PSNC and the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England remain shrouded in secrecy but some strong clues are beginning to emerge.

Pharmacy’s negotiators are pushing hard for a multi-year settlement like the one the GPs have, while urgent care is a key priority for the NHS as underlined in the Long Term Plan. A national minor illness referral service is very much on the cards.

The Scottish and Welsh Governments recognised some time ago the benefits that such schemes offer patients and the NHS, so it is good to see England catching up at last. However, where Scotland and Wales diverge from England is over medicines optimisation in long-term conditions.

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By Richard Thomas, Editor, Pharmacy Magazine

This month’s Chief Pharmaceutical Officer’s conference had an interesting and forward-looking programme.

Exploring the role of pharmacy in the NHS Long Term Plan, there were sessions on using data to improve care quality, pharmacogenomics and wellness through social prescribing. Exactly the sort of progressive agenda that community pharmacists are forever being urged to engage with and, as such, highly relevant to our readership.

We would like to tell you more – but unfortunately we can’t.

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By Richard Thomas, Editor, Pharmacy Magazine

Pharmacists in England have long cast their gaze enviously towards their colleagues north of the border. A smaller population, shorter lines of communication and greater alignment between the profession and those in power are obvious advantages. However, there is a clarity and sense of direction regarding pharmacy in Scotland that is completely lacking in England.

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By Richard Thomas, Editor, Pharmacy Magazine

The overwhelming vote by Boots pharmacists to recognise the PDA Union after a bitter dispute lasting nearly eight years could have implications not only at the UK’s biggest pharmacy chain but also sector-wide. It was a crushing defeat for senior managers at Boots, who badly misjudged their response from the very start, and a stunning victory for the PDA.

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So how was FMD Day for you? The EU’s anticounterfeit regulations finally came into force on February 9 but, despite some glitches, it passed largely without incident.

This was mainly because currently only a small proportion of packs have the new safety features – probably fewer than one in five – and most pharmacies missed the deadline for a variety of logistical reasons.

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By Richard Thomas, editor, Pharmacy Magazine

There is much in the NHS Long Term Plan that is encouraging. Plenty of mentions of pharmacists, albeit mostly of the ‘clinical’ kind – of which more later.

However, community pharmacists are emphasised as key players in urgent care and prevention and there is the usual commitment to make greater use of their skills and opportunities to engage patients.

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By Richard Thomas, editor, Pharmacy Magazine.

Christmas and the New Year is traditionally a time of hope and renewal, but, as the prescriptions pile up, it is hard for pharmacists to feel any sense of optimism.

We await the Government’s long-term plan for the NHS, but in the meantime the funding cuts are really taking their toll in the form of squeezed cashflow, job losses, reduced services, shelved investments and poor morale.

 

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