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Seeking solutions

Many of us are worrying about the future. For some time we have focused our efforts on gaining a national voice that can be heard alongside that of the doctors. This is a laudable aim, as is the creation of national templates for services and best practice standards. But, even with the substantial moves forward, we have found ourselves with:

  • An increase in student numbers which could lead to employment issues and blight young pharmacists’ futures
  • Increasing work pressures impacting on our ability to interact with patients meaningfully
  • Lack of public and professional understanding of our offer
  • Limited joint working across sectors to address issues of quality and safety such as the transfers of care
  • Lack of joint working with other health professionals in driving pharmacist involvement in multidisciplinary care pathways

We must ask ourselves why we are not making more rapid progress in resolving these issues. We seem to be continually looking inwardly for fault or for a pharmacy-based response when, in fact, the solutions often lie in us working differently with the wider health system. There is a workforce crisis in primary care with too few GPs and nurses and intense pressure to transfer activity out of hospital into the community. This provides us with a unique opportunity because it could be resolved with new approaches to care involving other health professionals, such as pharmacists, playing a key role in supporting long-term conditions. This direction has been widely supported in the “Call to action” campaign and in the “Now or never” report.

So what is the problem? Much of the decision-making and change in the broader health system occurs at local level and, if we examine where we have made moves forward in pharmacy provision, most evolve from local initiatives and are then expanded nationally. So why do we give such limited support to developing local leadership? Our methods of operation with centrally conceived approaches provide little scope for local initiative. To move forward we need far greater contact with practices, local commissioners and fellow pharmacists, providing solutions to the issues at a local level, with strong local leadership enabling these discussions. Then opportunities to offer our professional skills in new ways will emerge and we will resolve many of the issues that concern us all.


Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.11138184

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