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Editor's view: Without vision, there is no hope


Editor's view: Without vision, there is no hope

As pharmacy attempts to plot its future once again, might things be different this time around asks PM editor, Richard Thomas.

If drawing up visions for the future of pharmacy was an Olympic sport, the sector would win gold every time. From the old RPSGB’s Pharmacy in a New Age (1995) through to the NHS Call to Action (2013) and  Community Pharmacy Forward View (2016) – to name just three – vision statements always promise much before events blow them away like discarded litter, soon to be forgotten. No one outside pharmacy ever seems vaguely interested in our constant introspection.

Not that this puts our leaders off. This year the RPS has teamed up with the King’s Fund to set out a vision for transforming pharmacy practice in England. Perhaps of more significance, PSNC is about to embark on a major exercise with the Nuffield Trust and King’s Fund (yes, them again) to develop a vision for community pharmacy. This will be used to develop a new strategy for the sector to support crucial negotiations with Government as the current contractual framework comes to an end in 2024.

So could things be different this time around? Well, possibly. Teaming up with independent think tanks is a shrewd move because it immediately grounds the work in the realities of what the NHS needs and patients want from pharmacy. Understanding these priorities is vital for the future. Navel-gazing is a waste of time and the sector has taken far too long to realise this.

However, a vision must do more than just set out a direction of travel. It should also capture the imagination and open minds to what is possible. This is what the chief pharmaceutical officer for Wales, Andrew Evans, does so simply and effectively with his six ‘C’s – the principles that are underpinning the transformation of community pharmacy in Wales. Everyone’s on board.

The contrast with NHS England is stark, where the messaging is confused, the way ahead unclear. I’m still not sure what the Government actually wants from community pharmacy in England. Are you?

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