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'Undervalued and underappreciated' is also undeserved and unfair

Not to put you off your upcoming Easter Eggs, but here are some thoughts after reading through my first C+D Salary Survey.

Don't worry, I wouldn’t really put you off your Easter Eggs! And I was new to the Salary Survey in 2024, but not naïve as to what its contents might reveal.

There aren’t many high street businesses out there having a fabulous time, and even fewer publicly funded ones. Your comments lay bare how difficult it has been.

The infamous five-year funding deal of 2019 has not weathered the pressure of the last five years, although why pharmacy is starved of cash is no less strange than why junior doctors are striking, or why a paramedic is paid half as much as a train driver.

No doubt the train drivers in question would say they are worth every penny of their (generous) new deal. Whoever negotiated so fiercely on their behalf would insist upon it, and some might say pharmacy could use a similar dogged approach. That a little more gusto is required.

Others might say train drivers can bring a coldness to the negotiating table that pharmacists cannot. Or to put it another way, they don’t really care if the 7:13am to London doesn’t run.

Politics is the “art of making your selfish desires seem like the national interest”, said the American economist, Thomas Sowell. It shouldn’t be that pharmacy has to explain why it represents both. But “undervalued and underappreciated” is just one of the quotes from the Salary Survey that sums up so much of what you say.

You’re looking to the government for some solidity, for some reassurance that the next five years will be better. But the government is about to enter mass upheaval.

A general election is on the way, when dark clouds are dismissed by rays of optimism as we are told everything is going to get better. We know what to expect. Posturing, polling, promises. The same old politics, with even less sincerity.

Whether post-election flags wave red or blue, what’s waiting is the mundanity of unpicked conversations, of new faces at negotiating tables, of adjusted budgets and shifting priorities, of fresh voices sparking more delays.

None of which is promising for anyone hoping for good news. But what is promising is what might emerge from this chaotic five-year stretch.

It may be that the sunny uplands remain somewhere over yonder for a while to come. But though potential is not yet reality, and methodical considerations of detail may have fallen by the wayside in favour of rapid rollouts, there is a lot of potential out there for pharmacy as a result of the changes being introduced. And Easter is a time of new beginnings, after all.

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