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What's next for pharmacy?

Pouring rain, an overheard conversation with the health minister and the prospect of losing the shirt off his back, Terry Maguire's week hasn't got off to a good start

It's difficult enough to enter the revolving doors of Stormont's Parliament Building while attempting to take down a golfing umbrella without an impatient member of the local assembly (MLA) trying to exit via the same doors. I get momentarily jammed and I am forced to back out which causes our locally elected politician to verbally vent his frustration. 

I am embarrassed by my incompetence and fear I might be holding back the very political system. Stepping back, I give him a free run at the doors and watch as he splashes off into the torrential rain wearing only a light jacket. I could have offered my brolly? It's a dull wet Monday morning but I am easing myself into the working week attending a Pfizer sponsored public health meeting.

Speaker after speaker hammers home the message that good healthcare is all about great partnerships. Partnerships will extract the inefficiencies in healthcare that lead to health inequalities. Partnerships, we are told, are about ticking other people's boxes; if we seek only to tick our own boxes then it's not a partnership.

We heard about the SOS bus, a bus that started life as a late-night refuge for drunk and disorientated teenagers in central Belfast but is now partnershiping (it's become a verb) with deprived communities and with startling success. What a coincidence then that my weekly copy of C+D was a partnership special.

Leaving the meeting as it breaks up for a networking lunch I catch sight of the MLA from the revolving doors. He is now much better disposed, talking and smiling with an MLA colleague. I overhear the colleague saying that indeed it's all about partnership. And I think that's rich since the colleague is the current health minister and he's about to have the shirt of my back.

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