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PJ Online | Pharmacy must adapt to survive

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The Pharmaceutical Journal
Vol 268 No 7195 p580-581
27 April 2002

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Meetings and Conferences

AAH/Vantage convention summary


Pharmacy must adapt to survive

Community pharmacy must be open to new ideas if it is to survive changes in Government policy, according to Ian Bray, marketing director, AAH Pharmaceuticals. This applies even in areas where pharmacists do well.

Drawing a parallel between community pharmacies and local post offices, Mr Bray said that sub-postmasters had felt secure in their core role of distributing pensions and benefits. But the Government was looking for a cheaper way of delivering this service and post offices were under threat and closing.

"Pharmacies continue to exist and to thrive locally largely because Government needs a mechanism to distribute prescription drugs in a safe, controlled and professional manner. Please don't ever imagine that you are immune to change. I imagine that those who ran local post offices felt as secure as it is possible to be."

Mr Bray said that pharmacists should not imagine that they could resist evolution in service delivery. They could resists change and disappear or adapt and survive.

"I believe that we have to be open to new ideas and adopt some revolutionary concepts in the way we do our business. We also have to accept that even in the things we do very well we have to adapt to keep pace with Government legislation and consumer demand."

Pharmacists could do many things to help people lose weight, take more exercise, eat more healthily, give up smoking and drink less, Mr Bray said. They could help identify diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension, early on so that they could be treated more effectively.

"Why should this bother us," he asked. "Because it's in the NHS plan and anything that's in the plan is going to affect us all."

Considering the cost of the National Health Service and the known waste of medicines, Mr Bray said that the Government saw these as drivers for rationalisation of medicine use and to make people do something to improve their own health rather than rely on medicines to sort out their problems. More had to be done to discourage damaging habits like smoking. But what did this have to do with pharmacists?

"Not to put too fine a point on it, the Government thinks that you cost too much just to be counting and dispensing pills," Mr Bray answered. "It wants you to become active in managing people's health. People who live healthier lives require less from the NHS and as a result savings made by the Government mean that it will have funds available to pay pharmacists for their extended role in health care provision while still saving money on the overall NHS budget. ... If you don't get involved, somebody else will."

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