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New year must mark fresh start

 By Jeremy Meader

Community pharmacies have stood tall, and true heroes have emerged over the course of 2020. I’m humbled by the strength, resolve and commitment of our members, as they continue to deliver, in the face of some of the most unprecedented challenges.  

As we look ahead to 2021, it’s time to re-adjust, restructure and re-align business objectives to futureproof growth in this rapidly changing environment. There is no doubt that a fairer and sustainable funding model is required in England, and we continue to lobby the Government for this. But 2021 must be the year community pharmacists challenge the status quo and adopt a new growth strategy, in which services become ever more important and where funding will be directed.

Numark will continue to invest in and champion innovative solutions that help improve efficiency and reduce costs, and seek new ways to help our members grow their businesses, working with like-minded suppliers and manufacturer partners to deliver new services. But community pharmacies should run their own analysis of their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. They will need to be honest and realistic as to where fundamental change is needed, so we can help collectively support them to unlock new growth opportunities. 

It’s time to bite the bullet and mobilise for a ‘new year re-boot’. Community pharmacy needs to blend digital with bricks and mortar, so that online interactions lead to physical in-store interactions. New service provisions, operational and financial efficiencies and more effective merchandising are all recommended, but it’s as much about working harder at what we do best. For community pharmacy, that’s providing instant access, face-to-face patient care. 

Community pharmacy has the local infrastructure and unsung community health heroes championing its very worth. It’s important to play to these strengths to find new and engaging ways to bring patients and customers through the doors – especially the younger generations.  

The coronavirus response has seen pharmacy doors stay open at a time when communities have needed them most. As the UK’s largest community pharmacy membership organisation, we have witnessed and listened to some of the most heart-warming tales of lockdown from members who have tirelessly and heroically stepped up to support some of the most vulnerable in our communities. Pharmacy has proven its worth as a vital pillar of NHS healthcare; one which communities rely on. 

I’m therefore encouraging our members and other independents to embrace change positively in 2021, because the opportunity for growth is there for the taking. Now, is it too much to ask for the Government to reset primary care in England, safeguard the plight of pharmacy and give us the cash injection to really turbocharge positive change? Let’s see what the new year brings.




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