Pharmacy should be proud of the sector's performance during the severe weather conditions this winter says pharmacist Mike Smith

The severe weather in late February caused tremendous problems right across the UK, with many services grinding to a halt. I have to say that pharmacy performed really well to ensure that our patients received their vital medical supplies, again demonstrating the magnificent value we provide to our local communities.

There are numerous stories of staff walking to work and then delivering medicines to housebound patients on foot. If ever we needed a better example of the vital social and healthcare support that community pharmacies provide – this was it. I hope that these efforts receive recognition they deserve and we continue to PR ourselves.

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You have to act now to change the future of pharmacy, says Manor Pharmacy’s Graham Phillips

We’re all familiar with the concept of make every contact count (MECC) in pharmacy, but here’s a new one: Make Every Political Contact Count. Community pharmacy needs to get out there, and that means all of us getting involved – talking about the clinical, public health and social capital value of pharmacy and the threats to the network.

We need much stronger representation at the grass roots level, and I can tell you that YOU (all of you) are perfectly qualified to play your part. Start today! The good news is that you don’t need to be working at a national level or in high-powered meetings with CCGs, because you already have hundreds of opportunities a day to get the word out from the pharmacy you work in.

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Have you checked your bank statement lately? Making small changes can add up to big savings on everyday bills, suggests pharmacy ower Noel Wicks

One of the main concerns for community pharmacies in the current climate is how to combat the increasing costs of running a pharmacy business against a backdrop of static, if not reduced, funding.

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Workload pressure isn't going to change, but how we work with it can, suggests Noel Wicks.

The recent media spotlight on workplace pressures in the pharmacy must have resonated with many in our sector. It seems almost inevitable that these pressures continue to rise, with increasing numbers of scripts to dispense and services to provide set against a backdrop of reduced funding. It looks like the pressure on businesses, individuals, systems and teams to perform will only increase.

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Is pharmacy as a business becoming unsustainable, asks Nick Hunter, LPC chief officer, Community Pharmacy Nottinghamshire

Readers will no doubt be aware that the funding cuts to community pharmacy fees are now starting to bite, not least because of the media coverage of LloydsPharmacy’s decision to close 190 pharmacies across its estate. It is not just the cuts to core funding that are causing difficulties for community pharmacies – there are several other factors affecting cash flow which ultimately increase costs, as they generally require some form of additional loan to make ends meet.

Contributors to cash flow problems, aside from the usual such as calendar effects, include no cheaper stock obtainable (NCSO), brand switching and stock shortages.

These issues are so damaging, because the pharmacy will often have to spend more than they are reimbursed for the medication in order to obtain it, or at least get much less discount or margin than the NHS assumes and deducts from their account.

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