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The magic of marketing (Clinical Pharmacist, June 2010)

by Matthew Wright

Nothing can get your message out there like a good marketing campaign. Plenty of products and services come to mind that people simply wouldn’t know a thing about if it weren’t for their successful promotion — comparethemeerkat.com, 118118, the new (old) Wispa, to name a few.

Marketing is something that the pharmacy multiples have long relied on, which stands to reason: they have products and services to sell. Hospital pharmacy has never needed to sell itself to its paymasters; until recently the pharmacy department simply existed, along with its funding, or so it always seemed.

But in today’s NHS, a bit of marketing magic could be the one thing that safeguards hospital pharmacy jobs and clinical services. After all, NHS managers deciding how and where to make savings (in the order of millions of pounds) might not know how well the pharmacy service is helping the trust to meet quality targets, reduce drug wastage and speed up patient discharge — unless someone tells them. And the principles around marketing can help make this message stick.

This idea was reinforced at the recent joint conference of the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists and the United Kingdom Clinical Pharmacy Association, as we describe in this issue’s NEWS FEATURE (p197). But the concept was expanded beyond the marketing of hospital pharmacy within trusts.

Sharron Millen, head of clinical pharmacy at Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust, explained how a concerted campaign to promote the department to prospective employees resulted in a fully staffed pharmacy, compared with a situation two years ago where a third of posts were unfilled.

This could be a handy tip for those departments struggling to recruit to band 6 and 7 posts. But they should move fast. Clinical Pharmacist worries that this time next year there might not be many vacant pharmacy posts left... and not because they’ve been filled.

Matthew Wright, editor

Citation: Clinical Pharmacist URI: 11012951

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