There are signs of a financial upturn but pharmacy continues to face challenges from the recession and GPhC grading, says Mike Smith

There are some signs that we may be moving out of the recession. Whether or not this is political propaganda remains to be seen (I really am an old cynic these days), but it appears there are signs of an upturn. This is good news for us all, but pharmacy continues to face significant challenges.

I have just returned from the Alphega Pharmacy conference in the Cotswolds. It was an excellent event attended by 240 delegates – the largest held so far and the number grows each year.

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The only way to free up time is to work smarter, rather than harder, says Noel Wicks

What’s the most precious commodity for a pharmacy? You can’t buy more if you run out and you can’t sell it, in the unlikely event you had any to spare. I am, of course, talking about time. These days it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day, particularly if you’re a pharmacist, and I’m sure most staff feel this as well.

Pharmacy has improved efficiency in the past through innovations such as PMRs and other time-saving support tools. While we aren’t completely at the end of the pipeline for these sorts of things (think serial dispensing and robotics), it can feel like there’s little or no slack in the system as it stands.

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Pharmacy has a crucial role to play in the delivery of UK healthcare and remuneration should reflect that, says Mike Smith

It really depresses me to learn that pharmacists are now prepared to work for £10 per hour. When re-skilling was at the top of the agenda I predicted that that this would devalue the role of pharmacists – it has done exactly that.

Pharmacists devote five years of their lives to education to earn their hard-won professional qualification and they are then expected to work for an hourly rate that clearly does not reflect their contribution and status as health professionals.

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Pharmacy needs to change its business to meet the tougher market environment, says Mike Smith

Where is the year going? I notice with my advancing years that time seems to go by more quickly every year. We are almost at the end of the first quarter of 2014 and I still have not completed my list of jobs to do in January (well, actually, I still have some outstanding from January 2013).

This has been a very busy time for me and I would like to highlight some recent events.

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What will pharmacy look like for future generations of pharmacists, asks Mike Smith?

I recently attended the Portsmouth School of Pharmacy to talk about opportunities for a career in community pharmacy.

I always enjoy going to these events, attended by more than 100 third-year students who are all so full of enthusiasm and extremely attentive. They are very highly qualified, far more so than pharmacists of my generation, and I told the keen audience that I was sure that the future of our profession is safe in their hands. However, this raises a question in my mind: is their future safe in our hands?

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