When the NPA board convened in Cardiff recently, the chief pharmaceutical officer for Wales, Andrew Evans, gave an upbeat assessment of the direction being taken by community pharmacies in the country.
Andrew also highlighted the special affection that communities across Wales hold for their local pharmacies. Independent community pharmacies in particular have a special part to play in “building community”, which is a priority for the Welsh Government, he said.
My visit to Pill Pharmacy this month, with Andrew and NPA chief executive Mark Lyonette, gave some hints of what this means. Pill is a district of Newport once designated as a ‘community first’ area by the Welsh Government – which indicates the depth of the economic challenges there. Pharmacy owner, Asim Ali, told us that Pill has a great community spirit where everyone is on first name terms.
“The patients call me Asim, not Mr Ali. My staff get invited to patients’ weddings and kids from the local schools come here for career advice because we are respected professionals. The pharmacy sponsors the local football team and we’re involved in every aspect of community life, really.
“We are very responsive to local need – for example, offering a safe travel scheme to the large African and Asian populations, and podiatry services because of the prevalence of diabetes.
“I want the local community to be proud of the pharmacy because that relates to pride in the community overall. I see it as part of my duty to make the community better and help it grow stronger.”
NPA members will know that we are passionate about keeping pharmacies in communities and the ‘community’ in community pharmacy. We believe that, for independent pharmacies, there’s a meaningful bond between the owner, the business, the staff, the local community and patients.
So when we asked NPA members, what is special about independent community pharmacy, we weren’t surprised to get answers like these:
• “An independent serves the local community and is both a stabilising asset to the community and an advocate for the community and its population…a known face and integral to that community”
• “Most independents have become embedded in the communities they serve”
• “The relationships are strong and personal. We have a stake and a standing in the community”
• “Local familiarity usually results in the pharmacy fine tuning its services to better suit local needs”.
We’d love to hear more from NPA members about your place in the local community. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to share your story with us.