I read with great interest the launch of C+D's initiative to find the most influential person in community pharmacy. But it was with amazement that I read Keith Ridge was voted the most influential person in 2013.
Surely in 2017, he would get the top spot for community pharmacy villain of the year? The top three names in my list of villains, without a shadow of a doubt, would be Mr Ridge, Jeremy Hunt, and a latecomer in the form of Philip Hammond, after that infamous letter to Theresa May.
One would think that Mr Ridge, the chief pharmaceutical officer (CPO) for England, would be representing all the sectors of pharmacy. I attended his conference in London last month and in his speech he only mentioned community pharmacy once, and that was to berate us for only having four pharmacies rated 'excellent' out of 8,000 General Pharmaceutical Council inspections.
The man just couldn't bring himself to say "community pharmacists", even when asked about training independent prescribers in community pharmacy. Not that any community pharmacists in the audience – who were a very small minority – were at all surprised by his attitude. He has been the villain of the piece ever since he put his name to the [pharmacy funding cut] letter of December 17, 2015.
He could really learn something from Rose Marie Parr, the CPO for Scotland. With all pharmacists being trained to become independent prescribers by 2023 and almost every aspect of community pharmacy being supported in Scotland, I would be happy to give her my vote as an influential person. It would be really useful for the CPO of England to tell us what he has in mind for us, so we can decide if we want to emigrate north of the border, before Hadrian's Wall gets rebuilt.
A friend of mine who works for NHS England gave me some friendly advice. They said the only way to get things done is to work constructively with the people at the top, and not to antagonise them with our moaning. But I cannot see how we can work constructively with people who ignore more than two million signatures.
The CPO of England has lost his way and needs to consider his position if he cannot publicly support community pharmacy.
Hitesh Patel is a contractor in London