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I missed regular patient contact, says PCN pharmacist on return to community


I missed regular patient contact, says PCN pharmacist on return to community

A pharmacist who is returning to community pharmacy after more than five years working in general practice has said one of the reasons he decided to come back was because he was not regularly seeing patients face-to-face and sometimes had to handle their queries remotely because he could not always secure a room in the practice to see them.

Ben Merriman, who worked as a PCN pharmacist for Morecambe Bay Primary Care Collaborative, a GP Federation in the area, told Independent Community Pharmacist that although he enjoyed his time in general practice, he missed “regular interaction with patients.”

“There's a few reasons (I decided to return to community pharmacy). Firstly, I miss the regular patient contact. By that, I mean that I miss seeing people month after month, seeing them when they're well. In general practice, people only generally come in when they're poorly and wanting or needing something," he said. 

“Getting a room in general practice can be tricky. I am sometimes working from home either calling patients which, when you have a particular interest in respiratory medicine, can be tricky as you can't see their inhaler technique properly.

“I'd qualify the room availability issue (in general practice) with the fact that I did have a room twice a week and could prioritise patients that needed face-to-face appointments but this wasn't the reason I left. I really do see a much more positive future for community pharmacy."

Merriman, who is going to work in a health centre pharmacy in Grange-over-Sands, said “the main reason” for returning to community pharmacy was the Pharmacy First and contraception service which he said will allow him to use the experience he gained as an independent prescriber in general practice “to get this service up and running quickly.”

“For me, these herald a well overdue change in how NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care see community pharmacy. For too long, the sector has been seen as a supply function," he said. 

“These are services that patients and the NHS as a whole need and making them available through the most accessible part of the NHS, community pharmacy has for me always been a no-brainer.  Yes, it'll be tough work to get going but it's a challenge the sector is more than willing and able to take on as it's shown before. They always do what their patients need.”

Merriman said he was “grateful” to the people he worked with during this time in general practice who he suggested had helped him develop his “existing knowledge as well as learn a whole new range of skills.”

He posted on X: “I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to hitting the ground running with both the Pharmacy First and contraceptive services up, as well as continue working with my primary care colleagues to ensure the best possible treatment of patients in South Cumbria.” 

This story was originally published by Independent Community Pharmacist.


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