Aspirations to have 24/7 access to health services has begun to hit pharmacy, says Noel Wicks

I don’t know if you have noticed, but over the past few months there has been a significant increase in the number of hospital pharmacy departments looking at moving their pharmacy service to a full seven days a week.

This is quite different from the evening and weekend on-call service that I remember as a pre-reg and newly qualified pharmacist. In those days, my soon-to-be wife was a hospital pharmacist, and many was the time that I accompanied her in the wee hours of the morning to the pharmacy department because the faulty alarm system had gone off again. It often occurred to me during these bleary-eyed visits how strange it was that a department so central to patient care could be so under-utilised and unrecognised.

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Mike Smith puts the world to rights...

One thing from the recent evaluation of the New Medicine Service has really grabbed my attention. According to the report, the pharmacies that recruited most people to the service had a culture of providing services to patients at the core of their business: they showed greater team cohesion and a clear ‘can do’ attitude. This got me wondering how some pharmacies do this better than others.

There’s no doubt that some of the factors affecting delivery of the NMS are outside of a pharmacy team’s control. Staffing and resource issues can be a problem to the small independent, and conflicting business and organisational priorities can be more of an issue for the multiples. Some members of staff find it easier to talk to patients, giving them more chance of identifying the right people. Other pharmacies have closer working relationships with local GPs. I think that success with the NMS boils down to two main things – first, how proactively individual pharmacies adopt the idea, and second, how effectively we can prove that NMS can save the NHS money and enhance patient care.

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Why has Noel Wicks been driven to compile The Wicks Wall of Shame? It’s down to constant time-wasting supply problems, of course...

In the words of the famous cartoon character Popeye, ‘That’s all I can stands, cuz I can’t stands n’more!’ This month I must say that I have had my fill of dealing with manufacturers’ nonsense customer care lines.

I know I’m preaching to the converted here, but one day last week I was pushed over my tolerance threshold by back-to-back phone calls. So it is time to bust open a can of spinach, flex my guns and let rip with my latest idea: The Wicks Wall of Shame.

I won’t name names in print, but I suspect that you may have had similar experiences with these companies. The winner by a country mile frustrated me so much that I was forced to go outside and kick the (actual) bin. It’s the classic story of trying to get transplant medication for a regular patient, but our staff at this particular branch tell me they have routine problems. It’s the start of the month and on checking the PMR I can see that none has been ordered so far. So why are my wholesalers passing me to the manufacturer’s customer care line?

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Mike Smith puts the world to rights...

I was delighted to read recently about pharmacies’ success in delivering diabetes assessments. Diabetes is a huge problem both in terms of the number of people needing effective treatment as well as the cost to the NHS of ineffective treatment. It is also set to become an even greater concern: according to Diabetes UK, by 2030, some 4.6 million people will have diabetes, 90 per cent of whom will have type 2 diabetes. Many more people will also have blood sugar levels above the normal range – so-called ‘pre-diabetes’ – and will be at greater risk of developing full-blown diabetes.

Community pharmacy’s greatest asset is that it reaches the parts of the population that other healthcare services cannot reach, which is why this sort of evidence for a new pharmacy role is long overdue. Some 4.6 million people visit pharmacies each day, many of whom are well – or at least who think that they are. No other healthcare professional with such experience of treating people with long term conditions sees so many people as often.

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The market will undoubtedly see changes as a result of this deal, says Noel Wicks

Well, no sooner had I predicted that we would all be waving the starts and stripes for The Co-operative Pharmacy’s new owners than I’m proved wrong by Bestway Group swooping in with a £620 million pound offer for them.

It’s an interesting one, and I am sure many of the staff working for Co-op will be breathing a sigh of relief that their new bosses are likely to come in and work with existing staff and structures rather than sweep everything Co-op out of the door and implant their own corporate image.

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