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‘Let’s make 2020 the year of the pharmacist'

Pharmacists can expect 2020 to bring more opportunities and difficulties, but Laura Buckley is confident that the sector can rise to the challenge

It seems we have found ourselves in the year 2020. I think most of us are still recovering from a difficult 2019. Looking back, pharmacy faced some sizeable challenges. From a disappointing funding contract, to medicines shortages and the introduction of new services, we’ve had our work cut out for us. 

It was with nervous anticipation and excitement that I welcomed 2020. Although the challenges are continuing to unravel and many teams are still struggling with staff shortages and excessive pressures, we are required to increase our workload to support the NHS.

Despite this, something has changed. In recent months, the voices of grassroots pharmacists have started to be heard and even the sector’s leaders are making steady steps towards listening, as evidenced by the parliamentary event hosted by C+D last September.

There seems to have been a shift in attitudes within the healthcare sector. Pharmacy staff appear more determined than ever to share their opinions, vocalising their concerns loudly and making excellent use of social media.

In the face of adversity, it feels like we’re uniting across all roles within pharmacy. Certainly, the recent comments made on ITV’s This Morning brought pharmacy teams out en masse to defend our professional standing. However, many of us are wondering why in 2020 we should still need to educate the public on our purpose in healthcare.

The evolution of primary care networks and the roles established within them is likely to shape how community pharmacy interacts with general practice in the future, providing links between healthcare professionals that have not existed in such detail before.

Possibilities are emerging for us to become further integrated into patient care and we should rise to meet the opportunities offered to us. But what should we expect from 2020?

I think we can expect more. More services, more work and more demands from our patients and the NHS. We should not shy away from the responsibility, but nor should we accept feeling pressured, stressed and overworked as the norm in our day-to-day working lives.

I would like to see multidisciplinary teams work more efficiently and pharmacists across sectors working on more streamlined care provision. I’d like to think we can tackle polypharmacy from all angles and improve communication between teams delivering NHS services.

I hope to see more pharmacists take the opportunities offered to make changes and shouting about them. We have a voice and we should use it effectively. As pharmacists we let our fear hold us back, but we are the experts in medicines and we should have more confidence in our abilities.

Traditionally, pharmacists have quietly worked on patient care in the background, perhaps in the shadow of other healthcare professionals. This year, I’m proosing a common new year’s resolution: let’s all step out from behind the counter, out of the dispensary and away from the computer and make ourselves known for what we do to improve the lives of the patients we care for.

We should be proud to be a part of team pharmacy and celebrate our achievements, big and small. So, let’s make this year a good one. Let’s make 2020 the year of the pharmacist and show the public what we’re made of.

Laura Buckley is a locum pharmacist based in Hull


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