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Xrayser: Ready, set, go! Will Pharmacy First win the race?

Pharmacy First has launched, so Xrayser shares their thoughts recently about how the sector should be uniting…

Pharmacy First is finally here and it’s dominating all the headlines. It’s not a sprint for community pharmacy but a marathon with lots of comments on X, the social media platform. January 31 was the day we were all waiting for, I honestly felt as though I was holding my breath from when I woke up to the first consultation.

The service is a game-changer and exciting. It’s what we’ve wanted for years; the opportunity to start getting more clinical and offering patients better treatments. There are of course, like with any new service, many questions and challenges. There are also teething problems with the IT (did we honestly think there wouldn’t be?). This is normal and to be expected with any big and innovative change.

Read more: Xrayser: Happy New Year!

What we are seeing more of, is everything being shared across social media - not only for community pharmacists to see but for the public too. Frankly, some of the comments on there make me wonder how community pharmacy can ever stand united if we can’t be professional on social media?

After many years in pharmacy, I am still surprised that the NHS is so disjointed, and from the comments on social media, it feels as though nobody knows how other departments and sectors work. I’m sure nobody really understands the funding for community pharmacy. What I do know, is that social media is not the place to voice all these concerns. It’s like airing dirty laundry in public.

Read more: A Pharmacy Carol: Confronting the ghosts of the past, present and future

Many healthcare professionals on social media do not understand where the funding from Pharmacy First has come from. Reader – the money has not moved from general practice to community pharmacy to provide the service. While we’re on the topic of understanding, I want to make clear that we cannot and will not be giving out antibiotics to everybody. We have a process and PGDs to follow. These PDGs have undergone scrutiny by many different groups, and have been signed off by NHS England (NHSE). All new services come with apprehension, which is understandable. But what happened to asking your local pharmacist before blasting all pharmacists in public across social media?

There’s also the conversation on X about the increased workload pharmacy teams have to deal with, and how they should therefore be paid more. I understand that argument and I believe that as healthcare professionals, pharmacists should be paid a wage in line with their profession. I also recognise that the current funding from Pharmacy First will not compensate the loss in core funding. As most of the service is provided through referral, it’s also hard to predict how many referrals pharmacists would receive. That makes it difficult for anybody to plan their workload.

Read more: Xrayser: Vision docs are everywhere – but can we see the wood for the trees?

There’s been comments about some companies asking pharmacists to “link sell” - I wonder if we would be seeing the same outrage if companies were asking pharmacists to “ensure you support the patient with a total solution”?

People come to us because they are seeking convenience; they don’t want to miss a day off work, look after their families or children while feeling unwell or miss a night out with friends. We should, wherever possible, ensure that we provide a “total solution”. The patient is given a choice to purchase the product or take advice given to them.

We’ve known for a while now that providing services is the way forward. It is challenging, as the number of items being dispensed and supplied is increasing, pressure is being put on the pharmacies that remain open while others have permanently closed and patients are increasingly aware of their conditions and have more questions. However, pharmacists are still purchasing pharmacies, as has been shown with many purchasing LloydsPharmacies, so community pharmacy has the potential to be a viable business.

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

We need to change the way we work. We need to delegate more. We need to invest in support staff. Hopefully this investment will be paid off with various services being delivered. We need to stop doing things for free – including deliveries, dossette boxes and ordering Rxs.

Community pharmacy is the only healthcare service which people can walk into at any time, no appointment needed. This is our unique selling point. Let’s stand united, make these changes to community pharmacy and always be the best that we can be.

By the way, follow me on X - my handle is @Xrayserpharmacy

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

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