Community Pharmacy – fighting against the tide

I see many community pharmacists and pharmacy owners as the new King Canute of today. They valiantly try to hold back the tides of change. It must be clear to everyone that remote dispensing and supply will be the norm once the multiples and Amazon get into the game. Every week I am contacted by either P2U or Lloyds asking me to have my medicines delivered. I hold out and support a Day Lewis branch – yes I thought highly of Kirit, but the truth is that I would be inconvenienced if it closed.

I still hear people say that supply and clinical services must remain linked and those that talk about the value of face to face services and I remind people that appliance contractors have been supplying Appliance Use Reviews as part of their contract for quite a while. Just look at the way public health services are going – all on the internet and self-help, because they can’t afford to run premises. The current MUR needs a ‘major tweak’, and it is going to get it.

Walking through into the 2010’s you must realise that you need a new set of relationships. You must realise that NHS England has stimulated all pharmacies to work to healthy living pharmacy status. They have put the framework in place, but they don’t have the money and neither do public health in the Local Authorities.

If you follow ‘Jerry Maguire’ (not the excellent Mike Maguire from up north) then shout – ‘show me the money’. It doesn’t sit in NHS England and it doesn’t sit in the Local Authority – it is in people’s purses and pockets. Stop looking up to the heavens and start looking down at people – and not just the ones that are in your pharmacy – you know the ones that won’t pay – but the ones in your street, in your community that will pay. I often remind Pharmacists in places like Tower Hamlets that 10% of the working population earn over £100,000 a year.

Community Pharmacy needs to develop different relationships with more people. We have to become the first stop for healthcare and provide a linked range of service and product offerings that people want. As more people are interested in their own health and wellbeing – community pharmacy has to be the answer.

Community Pharmacy also needs to develop new relationships with other providers. If General Practice has too many patients and community pharmacy needs greater footfall…… think about it.

The longer we think we can hold back the tide – the less we are prepared for the future.


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