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Editor's viewpoint: Pharmacy in crisis


Editor's viewpoint: Pharmacy in crisis

Burnt out, battered and abused, pharmacy teams are at breaking point. Things cannot go on as they are, writes Pharmacy Magazine editor Richard Thomas.

One of the few plus points about isolating due to Covid, which happened to me over Christmas, is that it gives you a rare chance to slow down and think about things – like the past 12 months in pharmacy and what might lie in store in the year ahead. (I know, I am that sad.)

Pharmacy’s standout performance over Covid and flu jabs grabbed the headlines and was widely praised – deservedly so – but this should not overshadow the unwavering commitment to carrying on routine work and providing continuity of care to patients, despite everything that’s been thrown at the sector.

All around the country pharmacies have kept up the ‘business as usual’ signs. It has been a remarkable effort but it has come at a cost. Pharmacists and their teams are at breaking point: burnt out, stressed, knackered. Things cannot go on as they are.

The severity of the English Government’s funding cuts have had such dire consequences that pharmacy’s practice and business model, faced with escalating costs and rising demands, is broken almost beyond repair. A brighter, clinically-led future can just about be glimpsed through the wreckage, but how to get there?

Pharmacy has a capacity crisis and most contractors can no longer cope with additional workload or bureaucratic box ticking (PQS: I’m looking at you), which is a problem if the DHSC continues to roll out poorly designed clinical services at regular intervals and expects everyone to just get on with it.

Community pharmacy urgently needs to change its operational model and, well, build back better. This is why the forthcoming discussions about supervision and hub & spoke/automation are so important.

Equally important is that any change is driven from within rather than imposed from the outside. As the late Barry Andrews, formerly of Moss and PSNC, who sadly passed away earlier this month, once put it: surely it is better to be juggling lots of balls in the air than have the Government squeeze yours by the hand?

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