Community Pharmacy – the real challenge

There is always a time to take stock. Although funding cuts are important – they are not the only issue the profession and community pharmacy has to be worried about. And actually the funding cuts may actually be the leverage to the other.

The real problem is best described by pre-registration pharmacists. Only one in ten want to work in community pharmacy (personal and perhaps limited research n=20). The others are looking for a career in hospital, particularly after pharmacy transformation plans are implemented (how do they know about this) or a career in GP practice pharmacy.

For community pharmacy to survive and grow it needs to change – we have known that for decades. We can argue about core NHS funding and watch existing services being decommissioned and watch community pharmacy die from a thousand cuts, but the final blow will be when pharmacists do stop seeing community pharmacy as an aspirational career path.

The majority of new pharmacists understand that they will be employed within a business – and they will do the work that the business needs – this is as it always is – no change:

  • A Hospital Pharmacist works to drive patients through their system – quickly, safely and effectively.
  • A GP Practice Pharmacist works to support the delivery of the GP contract
  • A Community Pharmacist works to deliver the community pharmacy contract within a professional clinical retail healthcare environment

The last point is important. A community pharmacy should be a professional clinical retail healthcare environment where members of the catchment population and those passing can access additional services to support their healthcare needs.

It is interesting that when you explain this to the pharmacists – they come up with a whole range of ideas of things that they could offer to people, both reactively, proactively and targeted.

So it is time to talk frankly to front line pharmacists – deliver clinical services – drive alternative revenue streams and make community pharmacy a career of choice. And if you are the owner – trust and invest in your team to deliver for you.


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