Richard Thomas

14 results found for: Richard Thomas

More tales of Yuletide woe but let's raise a glass to pharmacy

By Richard Thomas, editor, Pharmacy Magazine. Christmas and the New Year is traditionally a time of hope and renewal, but, as the prescriptions pile up, it is hard for pharmacists to feel any sense of optimism. We await the Government’s long-term plan for the NHS, but in the meantime the funding cuts are really taking their toll in the form of squeezed cashflow, job losses, reduced services, shelved investments and poor morale.  

Interview: PSNC's Simon Dukes

Simon Dukes has taken on the toughest job in UK pharmacy and he’s going to need all his experience to sort out the mess

NAO investigation and RPS report on mental health – some reflections

By Richard Thomas, editor, Pharmacy Magazine. This month saw the publication of two major reports, polar opposites in terms of scope and purpose, yet each with potentially significant implications for the sector. The National Audit Office investigation into last year’s unprecedented hike in generics prices runs to 28 pages and contains a wealth of detail and market analysis – but little in the way of meaningful explanation.

Are our pharmacy bodies still fit for purpose?

By Richard Thomas, editor, Pharmacy Magazine. In these difficult times for the sector, our representative bodies should be firing on all cylinders as never before. Yet are they? Community pharmacy continues to have little meaningful impact on policy in the corridors of power despite what Sandra Gidley says in a recent interview in Pharmacy Magazine. The fact there are no community pharmacy representatives on Jeremy Hunt’s working group on medication safety is just the latest example of this, while the gap between the profession’s leaders and pharmacists at the coalface seems wider than ever.

Workload pressures are a sector-wide issue and need to be addressed

By Richard Thomas, editor, Pharmacy Magazine. I spent an hour recently in a dispensary waiting to interview the pharmacist. It was mayhem. That is by no means being derogatory to the highly organised pharmacist, who was on top of her game, or her excellent (and sufficient in numbers) support staff. It was simply the sheer number of demands she was juggling as the tumult raged around her. It was humbling and rather scary.

Lack of transparency with rebalancing board doing profession a disservice

By Pharmacy Magazine editor, Richard Thomas. Autumn has descended suddenly but everywhere you look the temperature’s rising. Doctors have fired off their annual salvo at pharmacists over flu jabs, Alliance Healthcare has been feeling the heat over its deliveries meltdown (since resolved) and everyone is hot under the collar about what the Government’s rebalancing board may – or may not – be considering about supervision.  

EHC row: value and price are not the same thing

By Pharmacy Magazine editor, Richard Thomas. The row over the cost of EHC from pharmacies – and the overwrought tone of much of the ensuing media coverage – raises serious questions about the perceived value of pharmacists’ professional input and how this should best be remunerated. Clearly, price can be a barrier to medicines access and there is an onus on all pharmacies to ensure that EHC is affordable. But is the cost of EHC, for those who have to pay, unjustifiably high? The British Pregnancy Advisory Service and Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare certainly think so. Presumably Superdrug and Tesco now agree with them.

NPA decision to leave PV leaves pharmacy divided

By Richard Thomas, editor, Pharmacy Magazine. The lobbying power of the medical profession is often put down to its unity. Doctors all seem to pull in the same direction. Actually, this is largely a myth. Behind closed doors medics fight like ferrets in a sack. What they are good at, however, is managing their differences and presenting a united front. If only pharmacy could do the same. The NPA’s decision to pull out of Pharmacy Voice, which will in all likelihood spell the end of the latter, came as a blow to those who believe the sector can only benefit from having a unified voice and consistent messaging in its relations with policymakers and NHS.

So the gloves are off

By Richard Thomas, editor, Pharmacy Magazine. So the gloves are off. As contractors in England wrestle with how to implement a year’s worth of cuts in four months with just weeks’ notice, the NPA launched legal action to challenge the Department of Health’s imposed funding settlement. Getting the lawyers involved is never a course of action to be taken lightly, not least because dragging the Government to court is hardly likely to endear you to representatives with whom you’ll eventually have to sit with around the negotiating table again. However, frankly, the sector was left with no choice – a line had to be drawn.

Confusing and conflicting signals from DH

By Richard Thomas, editor, Pharmacy Magazine. They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression. No wonder the profession is less than enamoured with new pharmacy minister David Mowat. He started by snubbing the RPS by not attending its annual conference in person, choosing instead to send a pre-recorded video message, in which he announced the delay of the pharmacy funding cuts.

Saturday reflections: Where now for self-care?

By Richard Thomas, Pharmacy Magazine editor. The NHS is teetering on the brink. In the last month alone there have been lurid headlines about clinical commissioning groups suspending all but the most urgent treatments for patients, restrictions on the use of statins, increasing limits on surgery for cataracts and hip and knee operations, A&E departments under threat of closure… the list goes on.

Will the DH have its pound of flesh anyway?

By Richard Thomas, Pharmacy Magazine editor. The Government’s unexpected U-turn over hub and spoke – at least for the moment – has been hailed as a long overdue shift in position in response to convincing evidence, rational argument and massive public support. However, any hint of “I told you so” on the pharmacy side would be gravely misplaced.

Time to up our game with OTC medicines

By Richard Thomas, Pharmacy Magazine editor. One of the consequences of the funding cut – 6 per cent now, probably more to come – is that it might cause pharmacies to refocus on the OTC side of their businesses in order to maximise much needed revenues. Most pharmacies have an approximately 90:10 split between their NHS and OTC turnover. Might this now change? However, if the sector is to make a concerted effort to ‘own’ the self-care and wellness agenda, pharmacy teams will have to do a better job in terms of improving the quality and consistency of advice given when OTC medicines are sold. The sector has a mixed record here, if the various Which? reports of recent years are any indication.

Now really is the time to stick together

By Richard Thomas, Pharmacy Magazine editor. Petitions, spoof Twitter accounts, muttered threats of industrial action – it has been an anxious and fractious start to the year for contractors in England following the now infamous letter from NHS England and the Department of Health announcing a 6 per cent cut in pharmacy funding and January’s category M clawback. It would appear that ministers are intent on using the blunt instrument of forcing businesses to go to the wall (alongside vague mention of what are unproven hub and spoke dispensing arrangements) in order to achieve “efficiencies” i.e. reducing the number of pharmacies. It seems a highly risky and ill-thought-through way of ensuring equitable access to pharmaceutical services without comprising quality or continuity.

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