By Rob Darracott

This year’s pharmacy election season has not been a classic. Bad behaviour via social media in the RPS English Pharmacy Board election did not see the profession at its best. Without dwelling on the matters that led the Society’s chief executive to issue a post-election statement of disappointment, the online “debate” did cover one issue that deserves a fresh look: term limits.

In an election, incumbents have a clear advantage. It can be as simple as name recognition, but when you only need a few hundred votes, waxing lyrical about your “achievements” in office might be enough. Neophyte candidates can win – Thorrun Govind (EPB) and Reena Barai (NPA) both triumphed first time as strong female candidates, but individual successes are hardly cause for celebration unless they are followed by others.

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By David Gallier-Harris, a member of the DHSC’s rebalancing board, writing in a personal capacity

The superintendent pharmacist/responsible pharmacist consultation from the rebalancing board reviews the current legislation and proposes moving much from primary legislation to professional regulatory control.

One result of these proposals is that failure to comply with a new mixture of GPhC standards, rules and regulatory guidance would become fitness to practise matters, rather than criminal offences, as is currently the case.

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By Stephen Fishwick, NPA head of communications.

Eight in 10 people believe NHS access has been eroded in the past decade, but our new report, See You Sooner, suggests community pharmacy can help reverse this trend.

The report argues that one cost-effective way to release more capacity into the system would be to develop community pharmacies as neighbourhood health and wellbeing centres – offering support that encompasses prevention, treatment for common ailments, health surveillance and the routine medicines management of long-term conditions, in collaboration with patients’ GP practices. This would have a positive, unblocking effect elsewhere in the health and social care system, with each provider and professional group playing to their strengths.

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By secretary of North East London LPC, Hemant Patel.

Look how much money is being thrown at GPs while pharmacy funding is slashed. Community pharmacy may not be dead but is definitely on its knees and is being set up to fail and collapse.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS, has a clear plan to separate provision of knowledge-based care from product supply, and make changes at a pace and scale never seen before in the NHS. The consequences for the community pharmacy network are grave.

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By Jeremy Holmes, board member of the Association of Optometrists and a former chief executive and registrar of the RPS.

In the face of pharmacy’s funding cuts, is there something useful pharmacists can learn from the way optometrists operate?

Many community pharmacists look at optometry with something approaching envy. There are obvious similarities – a professional, regulated service combined with a retail business – but the margins on spectacles look very attractive, and the opportunity to offer regular sight tests, even if they are free, is a great way to build loyalty.

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By Mike Holden, Pharmacy Complete.

The one strong message that is coming up from grass roots pharmacy is the need for a clear and singular vision supported by an effective plan for the way forward for community pharmacy. 

One message, one vision, one plan.

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By NPA chief pharmacist Leyla Hannbeck.

If Australia’s experience is anything to go by, we all need to be ready to deal with a particularly bad flu outbreak this year.

NHS chief executive Simon Stevens has warned that the UK could be in for an exceptionally bad flu outbreak this winter. Australia experienced its worst ever outbreak during its winter, and global circulation means there is a risk of the same here.

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Steve Anderson, managing director, Phoenix Healthcare Distribution.

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life in community pharmacy, it is easy to lose sight of storms brewing on the horizon. One of the biggest is the implementation of the Falsified Medicines Directive.

The aim of the directive is to prevent falsified medicines entering the legal supply chain. It is due to be implemented in UK law by February 2019. What started life as a modest initiative focused on a handful of “high risk” medicines is morphing into an expensive, impractical and bureaucratic behemoth.

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By Ross Ferguson, pharmacist and writer.

We need to move with the times and stop suggesting pharmacy faces an either/or future, either technology driven or community based. Why can’t we have both?

I completely disagree with NPA chairman Ian Strachan when he says there are two paths that pharmacy can take: either “mass automation, centralised dispensing and pharmacists working predominantly from GP practices or remotely” or “community pharmacies better integrated with other services, operating efficiently as neighbourhood health and wellbeing centres, and being a front door to the NHS”.

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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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