London contractor and vice-chair of the RPS's English Pharmacy Board Ash Soni wants commissioners and the public to be more aware of the importance of pharmacists in the community.
I hope all commissioners will recognise the valuable role that pharmacy can play. They should develop the role of pharmacy within health and social care, and fund and reward the important role pharmacy plays in improving health outcomes.
I would also like to see the role we play in public health increasing and greater awareness from the public that we offer these services. To achieve this we need better engagement with patient groups. And we need consistent quality standards to help this happen. There should be guidance on what a ‘good' service looks like and what the public should expect from pharmacy. I'd welcome guidance from the RPS on this, but it needs to be clear, achievable, and should engage with the profession.
A fear for pharmacy next year is that the profession won't grasp the opportunities that exist or will get sidelined, particularly as it's a pre-election year when the government could focus on GPs as a healthcare vote winner who are the solution for everything.
Another concern is that pharmacy won't improve its standards. The 2013 Which? report said pharmacy's quality hadn't improved. My fear is that not all pharmacists demonstrate their value, for example, by recognising every person you see is the most important person you will ever see – as you're only as good as the last patient you've served.
In 2014, I want to continue to develop my staff and pharmacy team and to promote the value of the profession. I hope to be an advocate for the profession when I talk to groups, such as within my own CCG in Lambeth, and then at area level talking to NHS England teams and at national level talking to NHS England and Public Health England – to tell them how good pharmacy is, giving examples of great practice.
Ash Soni is vice chair of the RPS's English Pharmacy Board and a London contractor who was awarded an OBE in the 2014 New Year Honours List
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