When reading comments on the C+D website, it’s disappointing to pick up a discord between contractors and employee pharmacists. At first glance, it may look like an open war, but I am not sure it is an accurate reflection of tensions on the ground. It is clear, however, that something needs to change.
It is vital we improve relationships between pharmacists and contractors – their cooperation is essential to provide a high quality service for patients. The bitterness that is adversely affecting the profession and patient care can be resolved, but it requires a different way of thinking. The future model for pharmacy relies on knowledge-based services, trust and continuity of personal relationships. It will demand a different relationship between these two professional groups that work alongside each other.
Managing professional relationships is vital to business and success, with strong relationships leading to greater happiness and productivity. To reap these benefits on both sides, there is a need to change the dynamics.
The relationship should be one of mutual reliance. The contractor is relying upon the pharmacist to perform an agreed job, which is to keep the pharmacy running smoothly. The pharmacist is relying upon the contractor to earn a living. But in community pharmacy there is more to it. The contractor brings the necessary business expertise and financial investment and hence takes a risk in hope of a return. The pharmacist brings the expertise and hopes for a fair wage and fair treatment.
Just as with all professional relationships, this is one that must develop over time. However, there is little time before the new funding settlement comes into play in October. Contractors and pharmacists must promote the building of this relationship by being open with each other – sharing information about finances and their own lives. At the same time, the value of knowledge is increasing rapidly in the NHS and in society.
There is an urgent need to reconnect, recognise and reward pharmacists. The transformation of this important relationship is in the interests of the public, and indeed the profession, in order to ensure that patients benefit from the best their community pharmacy can offer.
Hemant Patel is the secretary for North East London LPC
What is the relationship between pharmacists and the contractor like in your pharmacy?
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