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Xrayser: The season of awards, conferences and shows is upon us

This month, Xrayser looks forward to a season of pharmacy events and starts dreaming of what they will do with all the life-changing freebies they’ll be able to grab along the way

It’s that time of year: the days are becoming shorter, drawing us closer to the twinkle of Christmas lights. In the pharmacy world, it’s the season of glitz and glamour, when pharmacists celebrate at pharmacy awards and attend pharmacy events.

The season kicked off on September 6 with the C+D awards 2023, which was very snazzy – or so I’ve heard. Someone said it was like the Oscars of pharmacy. If only I could have been there…Maybe I was – do remember that I have sources everywhere.

Read more: Who took home a trophy at the C+D Awards 2023?

There was also a launch event in mid-September at the House of Lords for a new Community Pharmacy England (CPE)-commissioned vision document for pharmacy. Now that’s one I would have liked an invite to. The real question is whether this is the vison that will truly make a difference to community pharmacy.

I think it will if the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) and NHS England (NHSE) begin to truly see the value of community pharmacy, and fund us to deliver the vision to a high standard. But it would make a real difference if community pharmacy stood united and had one voice. Sharing a vison with MPs is a good start, but we also need everyone on the ground to deliver.

My sources tell me the report was received well by those that attended the launch event. But with a general election looming, we have to ask ourselves whether this will be enough to ensure the government puts community pharmacy at the forefront of primary care next year. Call me cynical, but I’m not holding my breath.

Read more: Is it just me or is this new vision document slightly blurry?

Social media was buzzing with pictures of people at the Healthcare Excellence Through Technology event, which took place at London’s ExCel last week (September 26-27). But were that many people from community pharmacy actually there? I’m guessing they weren’t, and the question is why?

All I hear is that community pharmacy is not fit for its purpose. But to get where we need to be, we need read-write access to patient records and we need interoperability – and that’s not even taking into consideration the gamechanger that artificial intelligence (AI) could bring to the table. It’s so hard to imagine a future where we are using AI in pharmacy to create efficiencies when currently we can’t even rely on our IT to do what it’s meant to do.

Read more: How can artificial intelligence help community pharmacists?

So community pharmacy should be attending technology shows. The companies inventing this tech need to know that there is a huge gap; one that they can fill. I do know some people who attended the event, and although everyone loves a good freebie, I was particularly impressed when one of them mentioned they had picked up a power bank.

Thinking about it, the NHS probably needs everyone to have one of these, as its hardware is probably so old that a full battery only lasts 25 mins. Although the powers that be would probably be more pleased that phones would always be charged, making professionals accessible outside of working hours.

Read more: There’s an app for that: Can technology bring pharmacists closer to patients?

And finally, there’s the big one (and, reader, it’s not in London!), the Pharmacy Show at the NEC in Birmingham next month (October 15-16). I have been before and will be going again this year – see if you can spot me! We’ll be networking and seeing old colleagues who we haven’t seen since, erm, last year, making promises to catch up, knowing full well that we will be saying the same thing next year. The time just flies by every year, and well-meaning intentions get taken over by our busy work lives.

I personally love the lure of a new notebook and a pen or 100, which means a new, organised work life. Because surely now that you have a notebook and a pen, you will turn into one of those ultra-organised people you have envied for years. Then there’s the free reusable coffee cup that will change your life – and maybe, just maybe, you’ll get to have a drink at work that is still hot rather than that lukewarm tea or coffee that you’ve been drinking every day for the last 20 years.

Don’t forget about the water bottle that will ensure you don’t go home every day with a dehydration headache. And the pens! Oh, all those pens. The bright colours. Surely they won’t get lost or taken by a patient (I wonder whether we could use the notebook to note a monthly pen inventory?). One year I recall, and it was post-COVID-19, there was a company giving out samples and full-sized bottles of moisturiser, which was very much needed to remove those stress wrinkles.

Read more: Xrayser: Winter is coming – but are we prepared to meet the added pressures?

Eventually, the dream of a new bright future switches back to reality when, after a few weeks at work, you notice that you’ve lost the pens. You fill the water bottle daily but don’t have the time to drink it, so it becomes another item you have to carry to and from work. And your coffee is still cold because, unfortunately, a 15-minute break didn’t come with the free reusable cup…

But we still have the notebook and everyone knows a notebook is life changing. You just need to find the time to write in it.

The identity of Xrayser remains a mystery, but their irreverent views are known by all. You can Tweet them @Xrayserpharmacy

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