Sue Sharpe gives her views on issues across pharmacy...

The costs of EPS dispensing

This year we’ve seen a massive roll out of EPS by GP practices. While this has some benefits for contractors, there is universal reporting that EPS dispensing adds time the process. There are a number of reasons why this is the case, and the theoretical time savings that HSCIC calculate are just not borne out in practice, partly because of the burden of printing paper is largely transferred from GPs to pharmacies. There may be some aspects that can be sorted by addressing the process requirements, but as we are seeing a massive ramp up for use of the system we do need to see that we capture and get agreed costs, and see that these are recognised in future funding. When I’ve talked to LPCs, groups of contractors and individual large chains, all have been adamant that there is a significant additional cost.’

The EPS study process

‘We plan to get the costs by the end of the year, and I expect that this will feed into the negotiations for 16/17. We already have a model from a study undertaken by two of the large multiples as a starting point, and the next step will be to agree the methodology with NHS England.’

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The futures of pharmacy and the wholesalers are inevitably linked, says Noel Wicks

It’s funny how things change without you realising, and then suddenly one day it strikes you how different things have become. We probably notice it more with day-to-day things, like our children, when suddenly nothing seems to fit them anymore, and looking at our changing town centres, when you reflect on the shops that used to be on the high street. I had one of these moments the other day, about wholesalers.

Thinking back to May 2000 when we bought our first pharmacy, there were the big three pharmaceutical wholesalers, but also a myriad of smaller regional ones as well. They each seemed to stock everything, whether regional or national, and the main differentiators were delivery times and discount levels. Those were simpler days, when you didn’t need a degree in quantum mathematics to work out what you were paying for a product.


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Mike Smith puts the world to rights…

I was thinking the other day about the customer satisfaction surveys that we frequently receive from many of our online suppliers. They do these for a reason, obviously – to help improve their service – but it got me thinking about my own views on service in community pharmacy.

Your pharmacy may be first class, but it’s always beneficial just to take some time to step back and look at your own operation. Here are my thoughts:

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Mike Smith puts the world to rights…

We have read much in the press lately that the time for pharmacy has come – but we must be careful that this is not another false dawn. It is clear from recent statements from the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) that GPs wish to work with pharmacists and it is in the interest of all that this actually happens. GPs will benefit from the skills that pharmacy can bring to their practice and help to relieve some of the much publicised pressures experienced in GP surgeries.

Patients will benefit from pharmacist input into the management of prescribing and compliance. But is this the right place for such activities, which must not undermine the role of good community pharmacies? I recently attended the UK Alphega Pharmacy conference, ‘The Chemistry for Success’, held in Telford.

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Price and clinical effectiveness are not the only factors when prescribing and dispensing these days, suggests Noel Wicks

Have you ever come across the law of unintended consequences? If you’re not entirely sure what this ‘law’ is, then let me enlighten you. It refers to outcomes that are not the ones intended by a purposeful action.

There are some interesting examples out there of unintended consequences. There’s lots around the introduction of wildlife into areas they weren’t indigenous to, often with catastrophic repercussions – the rabbits and cane toads in Australia are two that instantly jump to mind (no pun intended). In 1990, the Australian state of Victoria made wearing safety helmets mandatory for all bicycle riders.

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