The profession still has a long way to go before it is fully appreciated by “our paymasters and NHS England”, said Mr Smith, a non-executive advisor at Alliance Healthcare.
“The problem we have is that [pharmacy] is not recognised widely enough for us to be paid properly,” he said.
And while patients and the public “really value what we do”, it is the government and commissioners who need convincing.
“Frankly, [pharmacy’s] PR over recent years has been abysmal. Pharmacists are very good at what they do and I don’t think that is recognised widely enough.”
Mr Smith – who celebrates 50 years in the pharmacy profession – said there are “more effective ways of reaching the communities we serve”.
He suggested that "public opinion could be our best PR”.
“I could weep every winter when I read about the pressures on A&E and GP practices,” Mr Smith said. “We could do a lot of that, and I think it is slowly dawning on clinical commissioning groups and NHS England.”
However, with services must come appropriate remuneration, Mr Smith stressed.
“There’s a limit to what we can do for nothing. I know of many cases where patients are very happy to pay a pharmacist for a blood pressure test, medical screening, health and wellbeing counselling, and things of that nature.”
"I think there is a very strong case for developing some private, sustainable income streams for services," he said.
The profession has to make itself “indispensable” if it is going to survive, Mr Smith explained. “You actually have to speculate to accumulate, because frankly there is no money to pay for this stuff,” he stressed.
“I’m not banging on the door looking for money. I’m banging on the door saying: ‘Appreciate what we do’. In time, I believe remuneration will follow."