Mike Smith puts the world to rights…

Those who’ve read my column more than once will recall that I have pleaded for unity across our profession for many years. Sadly, this plea has fallen on deaf ears and unity seems further away than ever.

The power struggle in community pharmacy politics has gone on for far too long – for over 20 years in my experience. I remember from my days as a representative on the PSNC and the NPA boards that the tensions were already in place then. There are strong personalities driving these turf wars and they must stop or change. They are damaging our case and losing us credibility with the Department of Health. It is clear that I am not alone in this view.

Recently, former pharmacy minister Alistair Burt stated in his address to the Sigma conference that “pharmacy has got to be clear about who is speaking for it,” noting “I don’t have a view on what the position should be, but ministers need to know clearly who is speaking and who is in charge”.

To my mind, this statement could not make the position more clear. We are negotiating (although not at the moment) with a paymaster who does not know who speaks for us and is pretty miffed about two pending judicial reviews.

I guess we should take some optimism from healthcare lawyer David Reissner’s statement that, if successful, the judicial reviews could lead to a delay or even a reversal of the decision to impose the cuts. I have great respect for David, who I have known for many years, and I do hope that he is right.

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Finding efficiencies and extra capacity is going to be important for all community pharmacies, says Noel Wicks

"Efficiency". In the last decade this word has become a byword in business for cutbacks, redundancies and closures, and while we are familiar with industries such as banking and retail announcing widespread efficiencies, this is not something you often hear so much of in the pharmacy world.

I suspect this is largely because community pharmacy has always offered a fairly efficient service, particularly when compared to other healthcare services.

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PAGB is aiming a range of proposals at policy makers. Here is more information and a suggestion for how you can help…

John Smith is chief executive of the Proprietary Association of Great Britain (PAGB)

Accident and emergency services across the UK are facing one of the worst winters they’ve ever had, with media reports of vital operations being cancelled and elderly people and children being forced to sleep in hospital corridors due to a lack of bed space.

This crisis has only added fuel to the argument that the system needs to start shifting towards a greater focus on preventive care, and a need to educate people – on both a national and local level – about their health and how to self care.

This winter, PAGB conducted research into the use of GP and A&E services for self-treatable conditions in Greater Manchester. We found that the area has 12 per cent more A&E attendances for minor ailments than the region with the lowest proportion – the east of England – and almost one in 10 people (nine per cent) lack the confidence to manage their own health.

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Mike Smith puts the world to rights…

We have to face up to the facts about the NHS – it is abundantly clear that the financial pressures are growing daily. Last month, this column was headed “Between a rock and a hard place”. This time, I want to make a case for facing up to the reality of the situation, and working with the Department of Health and commissioners to address the crisis.

Every day, I read more stories about ambulances turned away from A&E, with emergency departments and GP surgeries unable to cope with increased demand on their services. I have referred to these winter pressures many times over recent months – and they’re not going away.

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Mike Smith puts the world to rights…

I have long-argued that community pharmacy needs to act as a unified profession and work more closely with the Department of Health (DH) to help them achieve NHS savings. I am disappointed that the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) is to withdraw support for Pharmacy Voice at the end of 2017.

I’m dumbstruck. I just wish that these guys would get around the same table – PSNC, RPS, NPA, PV or whatever you want to call it – to agree a common way forward that gives us credibility in the face of a DH which has no time for financial wrangling. When we should be working together, we seem to be moving even further apart.

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