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Dear Mr Hunt, do you know what we do?

Dear Jeremy Hunt,

I am a community pharmacist. You want to cut our funding and I am not convinced you know what we do so I would like to tell you a story to explain what your proposals are really doing.

My wife is a pharmacist too and she worked a Sunday shift over the last bank holiday weekend. The pharmacy was very busy, with patients coming in for advice and prescriptions left, right and centre. One lady came to the counter asking to speak to the pharmacist. The lady was upset and anxious. Several minutes into the conversation, the lady uttered the phrase “I just don’t feel life is worth living”. Everything went out of the window and my wife was sat down in the consultation room with the lady for the next half hour. It transpired that she’d stopped taking all her mental health medicines five days earlier due to side effects and the consequences were that the lady had simply crashed. The result of the conversation was that the lady restarted her medication, was more positive simply from having spoken to someone and had a different outlook regarding how she approached her mental health team.

She (the pharmacist) was there. No expensive trip to an accident and emergency department. No terrible call to the police. A pharmacist, in a community pharmacy. Trusted by her patient. Accessible. All provided out of sheer professional compassion. All provided totally unfunded. But hang on, that last sentence is a lie. Because it was funded. Cross-subsidised by the payments made to supply each and every medicine we dispense and also through the establishment payment. Funding which is being cut and the establishment payment is phased out. Cuts to funding which threaten the entire existence of pharmacy.

To top all this off, my pharmacist wife is soon to be leaving the profession. Morale is at an all-time low. Stress, working conditions, pay, fear, a sense of feeling like a commodity rather than a respected professional all play their part. It is just sad. Sad for the patients especially.

The path we are on currently will lead to the closure of pharmacies. This will be to the detriment of patients and therefore fundamentally to the detriment of the NHS.

So hence the question: do you know what we do?

David Gallier-Harris

Election candidate, English Pharmacy Board,

Royal Pharmaceutical Society

The candidate letters for the RPS national pharmacy board elections have not been edited by The Pharmaceutical Journal

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20202729

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