It is with sadness that I reflect on the news of 2017 and the start of 2018.
A&E is in crisis and there are no free appointments in GP practices, and yet Pharmacies are closing as they are not viable. What is the cheapest health care intervention? The empathetic pharmacy assistant who will ask you well-rehearsed questions to establish if you have the common cold or the Aussie Flu? The know if you have a raging temperature and feel like death that you need to be in bed with an antipyretic and plenty of fluids. If you have a secondary bacterial infection and are coughing up coloured sputum or are short of breath is it that you best speak to their pharmacist prescriber or your GP if he has an appointment?
The assistant can advise you to get a flu jab next year and that the pharmacy can do it for you now if you cannot get an appointment at the GP. The pharmacist will spend valuable time with the customer assessing them while the technician prepares the prescriptions for them to check after their consultation. So why do we want to disrupt this system, bring it to its knees resulting in Independents and Multiples alike announcing closures of non-viable pharmacies. Does the government realise that when we have more expensive service providers that are at crisis point, medical students being brought into hospitals to help, that the very small amount of funding required to keep pharmacies viable and open is a no brainer? Instead of reducing funding it should be increased. With ever increasing patients being diagnosed with dementia, mental health issues and chronic diseases the local networks and support and the watchful waiting of the local healthcare provider is invaluable. It cannot be replaced by a “Dispensing HUB” or a “Courier driver “who will be different every time and will not know that Tom and Rose are not very mobile and slightly deaf, so may take 15 minutes to get to the door to collect their medication. What does the future hold for our elderly without their local support network. Where is our regulator or our negotiating body? Who is fighting for the pharmacies? Have the pharmacists and pharmacy owners lost their voice? I hear no protesting, I hear nobody putting up a fight? I see a profession that is giving up! Your patients need you, do not give up, it is time to come out fighting.