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We do more than “count Smarties” Phillip Lee

From Mr S. K. Bhatti, MRPharmS

I was disgusted to read the comments made by Tory MP Phillip Lee during a speech made at the Institute of Economic Affairs. Dr Lee, who is also a locum GP, stated that there was no need for pharmacists in the NHS at all. In his speech he claimed that the NHS drugs budget helps “prop up the profits of high street chemists like Boots when GP surgeries could dispense drugs themselves”. He went on to make the statement that there was no need for pharmacists to be involved because dispensing is just like “counting Smarties”.

I am saddened that an elected MP is so ill-informed about the amount of work that goes on every day in the average pharmacy.

I invite him to spend a day in a local pharmacy to see for himself how pharmacists save the NHS millions of pounds a year through the huge amount of unpaid work they undertake. If pharmacies ceased to exist there would be a huge increase in GP consultations for minor ailments.

Currently pharmacists undertake these consultations without any need for an appointment. Would GPs increase their workload to conduct these consultations for free like pharmacists do at present? I doubt it.

We dispense prescriptions and check for the correct dose and potential drug interactions, run smoking cessation clinics, and offer emergency hormonal contraception, needle exchange schemes, methadone services, medicine use reviews, free collection and delivery services, etc. The list goes on.

In the future, Dr Lee should think carefully before opening his mouth to make such comments. I have been a member of the pharmacy profession for 28 years and am proud of the invaluable service that my fellow pharmacists and I have offered the local community over the years.

Sunil Bhatti


Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 11112465

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