Community Pharmacy Future

This week I have read two columns from leaders of our profession.

Kirit Patel – multimillionaire owner of Day Lewis says that the settlement is fair – of course it has a focus on dispensing revenue and he is from the camp that says dispensing is core.

Graham Phillips (probably a ‘comfortable’ pharmacist) says that the settlement is a disaster and just shows the lack of appetite of the government to engage pharmacy. He says that it represents more work for less money.

So what is going on here? To be honest I haven’t a clue…… It just seems like another situation where pharmacy fractures. These are not the only leaders to be jumping up and down asking for something else and, to be truthful, I have jumped up the same.

Tomorrow I will be attending the launch of a document called Think Big, Act Now: Creating a Community of Care. If you are a pharmacist then you should read recommendation 2 and join the NHS Alliance straight away.

It is probably worth noting that I have seen no real shift in the Government perspective that there are too many community pharmacies out there and therefore the cost of dispensing is too high – just dwell on this and recognise the path that may follow.

There are two real issues for Community Pharmacy to sort out:

At a national level – where are we going to go – how can we sing the same lyrics, recognising that we have to move to a place that recognises Government aspiration, community pharmacy/pharmacist aspiration and become a cost-effective solution for the Government. And yes – you have to make a living – although the Government does recognise that it always was a good living (note what is happening to GPs). You may all shout and say that we are, but all I hear is the shouting. I, for one, can’t wait to hear about the role of pharmacy in the new primary care strategy – it will be a test for you leaders out there!

At a local level there is a need to fit in and compete. Locally community pharmacy is like a bog of frogs (my favourite phrase at the moment), but when you open the box it is empty but one frog. The CCA multiples, the non-CCA multiples and the independents need to join together for local action. In some areas they need to dip into their pockets and join the GP federation – in others they need to dip into their pockets and form consortia or federations of their own. They need to be ‘there’ when options are discussed and be able to bid sensibly for tenders as they arise together and preferably as part of a federation. Don’t argue about what service you want – want them all.

I don’t know what to say now – strategy then tactics – structure, process, outcome – or any other management phrase of the day – how about disruptive transformation (whatever that is). Perhaps the simplest one – get your act together and go for it!

Oh almost forgot – it is the LPC conference today – so they will get it all sorted.


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