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Sector’s future is in its own hands, says outgoing Boots chief

Exclusive The UK government fails to recognise the full value of pharmacy, Alliance Boots health and beauty chief executive Alex Gourlay has told C+D.

Implementing the services within the national contract is key to convincing the government of pharmacy's potential, Alliance Boots' outgoing health and beauty chief executive has warned.

The profession could only overcome its lack of recognition by harnessing patient support and working together, Alex Gourlay told C+D in an exclusive interview on August 23.

Alliance Boots' Alex Gourlay argued that pharmacy could only overcome its lack of recognition by harnessing patient support and working together

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Mr Gourlay, who is leaving Alliance Boots in October for its US partner Walgreens, stressed that he was "very confident" about the future of UK pharmacy. Communities were aware of pharmacy's value, which should boost its profile under the new, patient-focused NHS, he said.

"I think, as customers get more and more power, pharmacists will get recognised more and more," Mr Gourlay said. "I'm very confident about it, but we've got to stand together as a profession and implement the new services successfully as they come along to demonstrate what we can do."

Although he stressed there was still work to be done on the pharmacy contract, Mr Gourlay said it was moving in the right direction. "I've been in the profession for quite a long time and when I think of what's changed in the contract, it's amazing," he said. "Pharmacists are so much more patient-focused and clinically focused, and our responsibility is to keep developing the contract to look after patient with the knowledge we have."

"I would love us to create the right environment for pharmacists to be really successful in their profession," Mr Gourlay added.

Mr Gourlay will take up the role of executive vice-president of Walgreens in October, where he will oversee customer experience, merchandising and marketing.

What do you think would make the government take more notice of pharmacy?

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Leon The Apothecary, Student

He is right about the pharmacy contract. Big changes are on the horizon.

Niall Murray, Superintendent

Get real dear Alex Gourley. You are a businessman now soon to be CUSTOMER, marketing and merchandising saviour. You concentrate on hairspray and makeup and leave the business of pharmacy practice & it's future to the small number of us who have got clinical credibility and interact with patients. Thanks for the departing rhetoric and your spin on someone elses vision.

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