The future for pharmacy is about working as a team

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The future for pharmacy is about working as a team

Don’t worry alone about what’s ahead. Discuss what can be done in the pharmacy as a group, says Noel Wicks

There are going to be some tough times and some tough decisions ahead for community pharmacy contractors in England. The recent proposals from the Department of Health couldn’t come at a worse time. The National Living Wage and employers’ pension contributions are adding financial pressure to a service that has already saved the NHS billions of pounds through Category M. It may be well into 2017 before the real damage of the DH cuts start to tell on businesses, but starting a conversation now with your team about the challenges ahead could be a prudent course of action.

The first conversation should most certainly be about what they can do to shape what’s currently being proposed. There’s already been an enormous amount of work going on up and down the country to help raise public awareness. This work needs to continue and the people best placed to influence the general public are those who interact directly with them.

It’s been great to see the community pharmacy network and fellow stakeholders join together in highlighting the damage that the DH’s funding proposals will cause to the pharmacy network. There are lots of support materials available for pharmacies to use from groups such as LPCs, the NPA and buying groups. Indeed staff may already be putting these resources to good use in the pharmacy. It’s got to be a team effort, so get everyone involved.

Once you have this under way, it’s perhaps time to move on to the second, and arguably trickier, conversation. This will be about how your pharmacy might cope with further financial pressures. I’m often amazed by the insight staff have into the business they work for, and the ideas they can generate given the chance.

We’re usually so busy doing the day job that it’s natural to keep worries and concerns to ourselves. I think that, on this occasion, the enormity and far-reaching consequences of what’s being proposed mean that we need to keep colleagues informed and involved. If nothing else, you and your colleagues will probably feel better for sharing your worries, as well as being better informed as a team.

At this stage, without further details of exactly how the proposed funding cuts will be applied, this conversation may just be a scoping exercise. If you can start to think of ways to generate further income, be that private or NHS, or to reduce overheads, then now’s a good time to write them down.

By engaging with each other to generate solutions, you are much more likely to get buy-in and action from your colleagues on the solutions you’ve come up with together. Realistically, there may be no big wins instantly available to you, but it’s amazing how small changes here and there can make a difference to your success.

One final request: don’t ignore this or believe it won’t affect you. None of this is going away, and unless we stand together, then we won’t be standing at all.

Starting a conversation now with your team about the challenges ahead could be a prudent course of action

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