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Xrayser: Happy New Year!

This month, Xrayser wishes everyone a Happy New Year and encourages community pharmacy to work together ahead of Pharmacy First

What a year we are going to have in community pharmacy. I was reflecting on the week between Christmas and New Year, and how it’s usually one we would hope is quiet, spent by planning mundane, but of course, important tasks like date checking, cleaning and so on.

But it never goes like that; because colleagues are given holidays as it’s a quiet time, then someone is usually off sick after having patients coughing and spluttering all over them a few days before (you know, that patient that wants a cough mixture and you ask them if it’s a dry or chesty cough, so they feel that the best way to answer is by demonstrating in your face!).
Read more: A Pharmacy Carol: Confronting the ghosts of the past, present and future

It's now mid-January and there is so much to do before the 31st. The pressure is on. Everywhere you turn in the community pharmacy world, people are talking about Pharmacy First. Everybody is scrambling to get some practical otoscope training (I have everything crossed, hoping my otoscope arrives on time, as I’m hearing rumblings of otoscope shortages). I feel like that emoji – the one where its brain is exploding.

As tough and stressful as things are right now, I do know one thing: that is community pharmacy will do this because we always do. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we were agile although guidelines were initially changing daily. We adapted with pace and we were there for our patients.

Last week’s (January 11) ITV Tonight documentary on community pharmacy reported on the crisis we’re facing, with an average of eight pharmacy store closures a week and the lowest number of community pharmacies since 2015. Reader, I’m not sure that the £645 million is going to save us. We don’t even need to be brave or radical; we need to run pharmacies like a business and not like a charity.
Read more: ITV Tonight’s community pharmacy documentary: How did the sector react?

We have been propping up social care for many years and we simply cannot afford to carry on doing this. Everybody tells us we need to embrace services and stop doing things for free, but too many colleagues I speak to still talk about their delivery service or about ordering repeat items for patients. Things that take our time but add no return except in items which, currently we are making a loss on, so much of the time. If there’s ever been a time when we should be sticking together and not looking at each other as competition, it would be now.

Let’s all work together and make this service a success and show everyone that it really should be Pharmacy First! All we need between now and then is working IT on the day of the launch, no antibiotic shortages, no otoscope shortages, no staff sickness (during the winter period, hmm…), training for all surgery teams, an extra 200 hours and so much more.
Read more: Xrayser: Vision docs are everywhere – but can we see the wood for the trees?


I do, however, remain confident that community pharmacy will deliver regardless of all of the above potentially not being in place, because when we put our minds to something we can and will deliver! Good luck!

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

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