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The time for action is now

The writing is on the wall or, to be more precise, the writing is in the ‘Five year forward view’, the Murray report and your local sustainability and transformation plans (STPs).

Allow me to summarise: an ageing population, living longer, suffering from more long-term conditions meets the perfect storm of limited health budgets and challenging workforce demographics. Doctors and nurses are hard to recruit but (in some parts of the country) the panacea is a plethora of pharmacists. Enter the NHS vanguards, GP pharmacists and community pharmacy cuts. Which brings us to where we are today. In the midst of monumental change, unsure what the future will hold but knowing that for the NHS to survive it must be more efficient, delivering care closer to home.

Even against the headwinds of automation, information technology and cuts, I refuse to believe that the future of community pharmacy lies in online mass robotic dispensing delivered by drones. But to escape that Orwellian future the sector must demonstrate its value added services. Pharmacy is so much more than the safe supply of medicines.

Regardless of which NHS organisational structure is in place, what matters is the relationships between providers. Throughout the Lansley reforms, innovation has not been driven from the top down but grown organically from the bottom up. Speculating what the commissioners of the future might look like is white noise, pharmacy needs to focus on unifying and collaborating with other providers to develop local solutions and share successes so that change is replicable and scalable.

The STPs were published in late 2016 and are being implemented as you read this. Our health service revolves around medicines and pharmacy must be involved. We have to act now. Read your STP, find out who your lead is and get involved. Speak to your colleagues in hospital, community, general practice, social care and care homes. Find out what local needs you can fulfil and plan interventions. Most importantly collect an evidence base to demonstrate benefit. The funding will follow.

These RPS elections have stirred up many issues and although the RPS is not directly responsible for where we are today, its role as the representative body is to set the direction for the future. I am running for election to help shape that future, but we collectively determine our future and we’re running out of time.

Brendon Jiang

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.2017.20202761

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