Cormac’s view: We must unite for the future of pharmacy

Our managing director Cormac Tobin share’s his view on pharmacy leadership

After all the political turmoil of the last few weeks, a new Prime Minister has taken up residence in Downing Street and, although Jeremy Hunt remains as Secretary of State for Health, we have a new Minister with responsibility for pharmacy, David Mowat MP.

So, will this change signal a new era for pharmacy?

The last few months have seen countless headlines about queues at GP surgeries, closed A&E departments, a NHS on the brink of collapse.  Surely it’s a no-brainer for even someone with a basic knowledge to see that a cost effective solution to alleviating pressure on the health service lies with pharmacy?  Directing patients with minor ailments to community pharmacies, working with pharmacists to improve adherence and therefore preventing costly unnecessary emergency admissions to hospital, this is how we demonstrate the vital role community pharmacy has to play in public health. Surely then, investment in pharmacy would pay for itself several times over?

Community Pharmacy is a vital resource to the NHS, especially at a time when it is facing increasing demands.  Yet there is a failure to recognise the considerable value, expertise and potential that the extensive network of community pharmacies can deliver, they are valuable social assets within their communities.

We know that patients are on our side – the 2 million signatory petition to parliament speaks for itself.  So why do politicians and civil servants fail to recognise our role in improving the health and wellbeing of the population?  We keep blaming those in power, but can it be, dare I say, that the problem could lie with us?

Was it Albert Einstein that said: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”?

We can change only our behaviour, not that of those around us. So what are we going to do differently to achieve a different result?

We need to present ourselves consistently and coherently with clear messages. We need to demonstrate the value of the nationally commissioned services we provide to our customers and patients.  It’s not about how we view individual businesses within our industry, it’s about working together as a sector for community pharmacy, to achieve the best for patients.  It’s about offering compelling reasons for the NHS to recognise our sector as a willing and able partner in achieving a health care strategy for our nation. It is about being seen as a sector that is willing to transform to meet the needs of patients, our paymasters and commissioners.

Now is the time to unite and work together collaboratively.  Only when we are unified, will the government and the NHS see us as a profession and sector that can deliver a consistent and relevant solution.  Only when we are united will we be in a position to deliver.

One thing is certain: community pharmacy needs strong representation and leadership to ensure that it achieves its full potential.