Trumpesque goings-on at NHS England conference

Does NHSE see community pharmacy as irrelevant?

This month’s Chief Pharmaceutical Officer’s conference had an interesting and forward-looking programme.

Exploring the role of pharmacy in the NHS Long Term Plan, there were sessions on using data to improve care quality, pharmacogenomics and wellness through social prescribing. Exactly the sort of progressive agenda that community pharmacists are forever being urged to engage with and, as such, highly relevant to our readership.

We would like to tell you more – but unfortunately we can’t. Inexplicably, NHS England decided that community pharmacists’ best interests would be served by banning the trade press from reporting on what was a public event. A journalist from another title was even thrown out of the meeting, an appallingly Trumpesque thing to do. Not a good look.

Some spurious excuse about local election purdah was trotted out, which frankly convinced no one – especially when tweeting from the conference was actively encouraged. Could there be a clearer message that NHSE sees community pharmacy as irrelevant to its future plans? It sets a worrying precedent and is totally incompatible with the notion of collaborative professional development. It also reflects poorly on the chief pharmacist personally. What an own goal.

Luckily, an important national pharmacy conference, held next month in Manchester, and organised jointly by Pharmacy Magazine and the NPA, will be widely reported. Health secretary Matt Hancock MP heads an impressive speaker line-up. It takes place on June 20, so put it in your diary.

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