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The Contractor: Pharmacists are seen as disposable commodities

"Community pharmacists deal with patients’ mental health every day"

Pharmacy closures will leave communities isolated, worsening the country’s overstretched mental health support, argues The Contractor

With the announcement in October that pharmacists will not receive mental health support like doctors and dentists [under the NHS Practitioner Health expansion], I wasn’t surprised in the slightest. Doctors and dentists are valued by the government. A hub-and-spoke system can’t remove teeth, and doctors are in short supply already.

Pharmacists are seen as disposable commodities. Machines can take over the dispensing, and the Department of Health and Social Care is on a mission to shut us down. They don’t value the contribution we make, so why should they look after our mental health?

The irony of it is it’s the community pharmacists who deal every day with patients’ mental health. We are the ones who try so hard to be available to worried patients. We don’t have an appointment system, and we are within reach on the high street.

Our stressors are increasing daily, our funding is stagnant, and the pressures on us are immense. To be honest, I don’t actually care about a phoneline I can ring when I’m stressed. I need to run my business with funding, and the phoneline isn’t going to provide that.

Slowly, the demise of community pharmacies will leave big, artificial stores on the high street. More communities will be left isolated, with only apps to talk to.

Mental health problems among patients are on the rise and such visions of pharmacy closures pushed by our government will further exacerbate the issues. If our already overstretched mental health services get worse, no one will be able to turn back time on the consequences.

The Contractor is an independent pharmacy owner in England

C+D takes pharmacy pressures to parliament

In September, C+D and the charity Pharmacist Support brought together MPs, pharmacy representatives and pharmacists to discuss the rise of stress and workplace pressures among pharmacy teams.

The parliamentary event took place in Portcullis House, Westminster, and was hosted by all-party pharmacy group chair Sir Kevin Barron MP.

If you would like to share your experiences, please email [email protected]

10 Comments

R G, Pharmacy Buyer

If only pharmacists had true unity then a threat of a strike to not dispense the "little white tablets" would have some effect. Unfortunately dreams never come true! Maybe unicorns do really exist and may help our pharmacy world.

D Change, Community pharmacist

Question : since when did having degree level qualifications in how medications work/knowing different drugs within classes have any relationship with clinical diagnostic capabilities that the government have always believed we had?

Maybe we just don't have that clinical knowledge with diagnosing and prescribing that people assume we have

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

"""I don’t actually care about a phoneline I can ring when I’m stressed. I need to run my business with funding, and the phoneline isn’t going to provide that."""

The best statement ever from a Contractor/ Pharmacist.

Dodo pharmacist, Community pharmacist

They haven't actually got £1 million in their pension pots, but their defined benefit  scheme annual income would equate to a pot of over £1 million. That is why they are being taxed on their current income

Snake Plissken, Student

Nobody values what is given for free. Until we start valuing and charging appropriately for our time until then we will never be treated as equal healthcare professionals.

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

Totally agree. And.......we have never valued ourselves and our TIME, e.g. filling those sod*ing plastic community dossette trays for nothing, then if you don't value yourself, it is quite easy to see why no-one else values you.  e.g. governments and patients. 

(just had my car in the garage, analysing the bill, I see my mechanic charges more an hour than I do! well, get given, there is no negotiation. I can still remember the days when I would get calls asking my hourly fee! Ahh the good old days! ) 

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

As with most things, society will get the health service it deserves. We have already seen the high street dying because of the move to on-line shopping, this is just the same idea - remove bricks & morter pharmacies and replace it with Hub & spoke. I for one am completely sick of the vacuous words from politicians, about 'making good use of pharmacists clinical knowledge' yet doing nothing. Hopefully, the profession will last long enough for me to get through to the other side and, when it does die the death, I for one will laugh myself silly at these patients unable to see a GP for weeks, because there are no destinations for advice on minor ailments, and GP receptionists being attacked because there is a supply problem and there is no-one there to sort out getting hold of the unicorn blood that has been prescribed, despite being told it was in short supply. The government response will be the same - give more money to doctors to do something pharmacists could do at have the price, if only they hadn't driven us out of existence! 

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

A friend told me of a pharmacy unicorn app recently. The patient downloaded it and placed a request, expecting a prescription an hour later...

N patel , Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

True
Have you seen the latest wheeze by the nhs..it us going to pay consultants pension tax bills...yet we are told there is no more money for the rest of the nhs

C A, Community pharmacist

That would be the consultants with over £1 million in their pensions right? Hard life being a consultant I guess... 

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