The vital role syndrome

I don’t know about you, but I am getting a little tired of the ‘vital role syndrome’. It is virtually every day that I read ‘Pharmacists have a vital role in…….’. Today it was lung cancer, yesterday it was social care and tomorrow – well I wonder. It is not as if I don’t agree – pharmacists do have a potential vital role in so many health and social care related issues and can help in so many ways. I am, however wondering if this is a confusion syndrome. It is almost as bad as the ‘…. is everybody’s business’ disease. And the crowd of confused bandwagon jumpers complaint.

I have been known to criticise leaders who say that they ‘open doors’ for the profession. Chucking out the statement – it’s a vital role for pharmacists – is not opening doors. Writing a big report with 50 key points does not open doors. It could be seen as a blunderbuss approach when we need some focus and direction.

My problem is always traction – getting it all going – making a start. If everyone agreed with the pundits and leaders then pharmacists would be commissioned to do all of it. They are not. What is commissioned is often too little and too localised. I would admit that some areas are getting some great projects up and running, but the NHS is still far too slow to spread innovation. Where is Innovation, Health and Wealth now? Is it dead – actually I hear that it is retired and living in the South West – is that right? When was the last time I heard a Pharmacist talk about it…….

So is the constant noise a real problem? Are the really important messages about what pharmacists can do to support the NHS and Local Authority agendas lost in the din? Do we almost catch that commissioner fish on the hook to see them distracted by alternative tasty titbits? Are we, the remaining membership confused? Are there really a group of gnomes who watch every news release and add – a vital role for pharmacy – to it and push it out into the noise.

So I would like to know exactly what is our ‘vital role’? Some clarity about it, what it looks like and most importantly how our leaders are going to take us there.

I threw out a challenge – two games – elevator pitch and let’s protest – only one reply through twitter. Was it too difficult?

So perhaps our biggest challenge as a profession is to decide exactly what our vital role is. Publicise it and get behind it – promote it louder and clearer than all others. And lead change to reduce the barriers and hurdles to make it happen.

Surely we can do that?


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