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Dr Messenger: Education, not confrontation

“The only time the politicians will realise what they have is when they lose it”

Maybe the opposite of a strike is required to make policy-makers listen, says Dr Messenger

The frontline of the NHS is not a happy place to be at present. Practice closures are on the rise, resulting in more than 200,000 patients being displaced from their surgeries last year. And GPs are feeling so downtrodden that a recent extraordinary meeting of local medical committees (LMCs) has just agreed to canvas family doctors on submitting undated resignations unless a successful rescue package is negotiated within the next six months.

Sound familiar? It should. Pharmacy budgets are being slashed, leading to dire warnings about large numbers of pharmacists having to shut up shop. The sense of dismay runs so deep that some pharmacists have talked of strike action as the only way to articulate their concerns.

The trouble is, of course, that GPs are very unlikely to hand in unsigned resignations. And pharmacists are unlikely to go on strike, either. Even the most militant realise that there are simply too many practical, political and philosophical barriers in the way. But the fact that these ideas are even entertained says something about how profoundly disaffected us frontline staff are. We’re thinking the unthinkable simply because we have no other way of vocalising our frustration at constantly feeling undervalued. The decision-makers, it seems, simply don’t appreciate what we do.

So perhaps we need the opposite of a strike. Instead, we could welcome the policymakers to a typical day in our surgeries and pharmacies so they can see, first hand, the work we do and how it benefits patients. Maybe this – education rather than confrontation – is the only way to open their eyes to the value of dedicated, frontline staff.

I genuinely believe that the way things are going, the only time the politicians will realise what they have is when they lose it.

My door – and I imagine yours – is always open. To patients, to politicians. But, given the current climate, I won’t hold my breath.

How can pharmacists make their voices heard?

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Farm Assistant, Community pharmacist

Don't worry Harry, pretty soon you won't have a job to go on strike from.

Harry Tolly, Pharmacist

Thanks for your concern, but rest assured I am well settled in my "job".

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

An example of typical contractor bullying. Veiled threats that you should strike for conractor benefit or you won't have a job. Childish playground scare tactics.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Five GP surgeries have closed down in my local area. That's a stupid number of patients whom now need a new doctor, and those new surgries are expected to provide the same level of care. Unforunately, it will take a crisis until action is fully taken in my humble opinion. 

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Toughen up man. Imagine if you were a phamracist, youd have hung yourself by now. Interesting how GPs and Pharmacmacy contractors are very similar in how they dress everything up as being about the patient when all they want is more money and perks. Only GPs have much better better PR and lobbying.

Harry Tolly, Pharmacist

"how profoundly disaffected us frontline staff are" ............ as a patient facing pharmacist I would never contemplate going on strike. Its the owners of pharmacies and their mouthpiece (C&D) that is rabble rousing. I have NOT seen talk of strikes anywhere else apart from C&D.

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

The contractors would like 'other employees and locums' to strike on their behalf as it were. They themselves would remain open to hoover up any business. 

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