In her strategy for Scotland, Achieving excellence in pharmaceutical care, she elaborates on her priorities of developing the workforce, making use of technology and formulating a sustainable, Scotland-wide approach to pharmaceutical care.
It’s worth repeating the commitments outlined in the document:
This must be great news for community pharmacists in Scotland and their patients.
I struggle with the lack of progress in England compared with our fellow pharmacists north of the border. It seems clear that Keith Ridge, England’s chief pharmaceutical officer, has very different views for the future role of community pharmacy. From what I understand, he sees more value in pharmacists in GP surgeries, along with gradual deskilling of pharmacists by permitting technicians to supervise and oversee the supply of prescription medicines – the rationale being that this will free up more time for pharmacists to spend with patients.
For a cynical guy like me, an ulterior motive is clear – to save money by helping to support the shortage of GPs and reduce the cost of dispensing prescriptions. Whatever the future outcome, I don’t see it as a good one for pharmacists. I know pharmacists who work in GP surgeries – and many find it much less fulfilling.
As far as the supervision debate is concerned, I cannot believe that we can countenance the deskilling of a professional who has spent five years to qualify and then enters a market with limited job prospects and falling salaries. Many times in this column I have said that my work with pharmacy students leads me to believe we must leave a profession fit for these highly qualified and motivated individuals. Think again Mr Ridge – give us some good news, and a strategy, for the future of community pharmacy in England.
We remain in a state of limbo as far as remuneration is concerned. The whole process is hindered by the appeal on the judicial reviews, which may not be heard until April, or even later. My views on these are well known! What I find so frustrating about this is the lack of awareness of the tremendous service that pharmacists are providing that I see and hear of on a daily basis.
Last week, I was with a pharmacist who delivers between 60 and 100 (with a record 224) medicines to housebound patients each day – just think of the impact on these patients if the service is discontinued because of lack of funds. We provide this level of service because we are dedicated professionals who care for our patients. The Department of Health needs to understand the true value of our work.
One thing is abundantly clear to me – that we will not achieve anything by being passive. We have to unite, and we have to go for it. Start shouting.
Mike Smith is chairman of Alliance Healthcare