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Editor's view: enough is enough, a call to action

Pharmacy in England is running out of road. Time to rally the public to protect a vital national asset, says PM editor Richard Thomas

Trust is probably the single most important factor in the delivery of safe and effective healthcare. Survey after survey over the years has found that the public’s trust in community pharmacists is extremely high. It is one of the main reasons patients visit pharmacies in the first place.

We have reported on numerous market research studies, each proclaiming pharmacists as “the most trusted” health professional. Only last month Harry McQuillan in his Final Word column described the special trust people place in their local pharmacy, with most saying this is the major driver behind their choice of which pharmacy to use.

Accessibility is a key trust-enhancing factor and underpins the benefits of a widely dispersed pharmacy network. Protecting this vital asset in the public interest must form the central thrust of the Save Our Pharmacies campaign. 

A recent YouGov survey found that pharmacies are considered by the public as the third most important amenity to have within a 15-minute walk after bus stops and post boxes – ahead of GP surgeries, supermarkets, even primary schools. There could not be a more convincing argument for fair funding from the Government in England. To allow the network to collapse through lack of essential investment would be a failure of common sense and morally wrong.

This is why the Save Our Pharmacies campaign is so important. The aim is simple: to persuade ministers to take urgent action to relieve community pharmacy’s immediate funding pressures and review the sector’s long-term financial model for the benefit of patients and the NHS.

A small gripe would be that a slogan Save Your Pharmacy might have been even more powerful and perhaps less defensive but the campaign has already gathered widespread support from pharmacy teams, MPs and the public. A window poster is included inside this issue. Put it up and get your patients to sign the petition. Use the trust they have in you to secure their support and protect your business.

Your survival could depend on it. 

Richard Thomas is a pharmacist and editor of Pharmacy Magazine

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