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.

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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.

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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...

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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