Smartie counter revolution: see what pharmacists can do

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It’s about time pharmacists were given the chance to show what they can do


It’s no secret that the job description of a community pharmacist has changed dramatically over the last few decades and it looks like it will continue in the light of changes to the funding package.

In December 2015 the Department of Health announced that the pharmacy contractual framework for England in 2016-2017 will be no higher than £2.63bn – a reduction of 6.1% on the previous financial year.

At the time the DH anticipated that these reductions would take effect from October this year. It was delayed, however, to allow the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, and newly appointed pharmacy minister, David Mowat, time to review the policy. This came as a relief to many pharmacy contractors who were understandably nervous about the prospect of cuts.

On 14 September the Department of Health broke the news to pharmacy stakeholders that the funding package for community pharmacy in England will be implemented in December this year. At the moment it is still unclear where the ‘cuts’ will come from, which means a lot of very nervous contractors in the interim.

It’s disappointing to see the funding cuts, especially given that the role of a community pharmacist and community pharmacy in general is often misunderstood. Pharmacists and the wider pharmacy team do a lot more than ‘count Smarties’ – we are uniquely qualified experts in medicine and the services that we provide are invaluable to the local community.

The commissioned ‘Medicines Use Reviews’ for example – although having had lots of bad press in recent months – are invaluable to patients and need to be encouraged. I can’t count the number of times I’ve reviewed a patient’s inhaler technique only to find that it was completely wrong and had never been assessed during their annual asthma reviews! Or, that a patient with type 2 diabetes has gastro-intestinal side effects, which could be minimised by titrating the dose slower or switching to modified release.

There are so many ways that we can add value and positively impact patient care by having the time to sit down and talk to the patient about their medication. It’s only then that they really talk to you about the problems they are experiencing with their medicines.

Our profession is evolving! We will be continuing to move from behind the dispensary to the forefront of the pharmacy to deliver vital clinical services. I just hope that the new funding model will embrace and allow a new pharmacist revolution – we shall see!

Niamh is Clinical Development Manager at Superdrug. Please note, these are Niamh’s personal views and do not necessarily reflect those of the Superdrug business.