Changing the face of community pharmacy

I have often heard people talking about the clinical knowledge and skills of community pharmacists. That’s nice, but is it the right knowledge and is it used in the right way.

I have long been a critic of some of the educational programs that I have seen. All too often they are presented by a hospital consultant or a specialist pharmacist. They tell the community pharmacist audience what they do and their personal view on what the community pharmacist should do. Don’t get me wrong, it may be very informative and interesting – and patient safety is very important, but I question how much is usable in day to day practice.

I have heard complaints about the pharmacist’s availability to customers. So does the current education support the pharmacist in the back of the pharmacy or the front? I did think that all pharmacists would want the cut and thrust of clinical pharmacy in the front of the shop, but I may be wrong here.

I do believe that life at the front is much more difficult than life in the back. The trouble with people is that they ask you things that you may not be able to answer, they use language you don’t understand and take you down difficult discussions. But this is the areas which is more rewarding, assuming that you got into pharmacy to help people, and where community pharmacists have their real worth.

I believe in proactive clinical community pharmacy practice.

  • Proactive – responding to symptoms is so old hat – we need to be able to identify people who have certain conditions and go out and help them. Call it targeting if you will – it could be ‘hard targeting’ because I know who you or can make a jolly good guess – or soft targeting where I set a display that would help you to identify yourself to me.
  • Clinical – because I use my knowledge of epidemiology, presentation, associated conditions and treatment to offer help and advice.
  • Community Pharmacy – because this is where many people go first. Community Pharmacy is the gatekeeper to General Practice and we do need community pharmacy to tackle demand management in the NHS.
  • Practice – because it is what we do every day

I have talked about this several times now and I am not convinced that the pharmacy workforce is ready – we have a way to go. But the future lies in two pharmacist premises and the delivery of front line advanced care. We have a lot to do to build the future that is financially secure and professionally rewarding.

So start now there is no time to waste.


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