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Xrayser: Repent, pharmacists! The end is truly nigh

"For there to be errors in the BNF – how is that even possible?"

Is pharmacy in its last days? Xrayser has reason to think so

We all have at least one “nightmare consultation” story. For me, the first person who comes to mind is a large lady on zuclopenthixol who asked to speak to me in the consultation room. She then proceeded to describe, in graphic detail, problems with her “hoo-ha”, as she called it – thus accurately demonstrating the dictionary definition of “hoo-ha” as “an occasion when there is too much interest in, or discussion about, something”.

The other time our consultation room became Room 101 was due to an elderly gentleman who had already had his card marked on the patient medical record (PMR). You know the sort of patient I mean. The ones with pop-up notes that say things like “Must have caplets”, “Don’t mention the side effects” and “For God’s sake, don’t make a dispensing error as the in-depth discussion he will require is worse than any fitness-to-practice investigation!”

Anyway, he asked if he could speak to me in private, with a conspiratorial tone that I took for an uncharacteristically friendly demeanour. Once inside the consultation room, he looked me in the eye and said, “Can we be affected by chemicals in the air?”. He went on to expound the “chemtrails” conspiracy theory – that long-lasting trails in the sky from high-flying aircraft are chemical or biological agents deliberately sprayed by the government for sinister purposes undisclosed to the general public.

Now, I’ve never been a fan of conspiracy theories. They always put me in mind of those stories that warn apocalyptic times are coming, and we should prepare for the End of Days. Except that three things have happened recently to make me think again.

Firstly, I had to go through the BNF and cBNF, correcting errors in the entries. And not just one or two errors, but 10 drugs were affected! Now empires will rise and fall, seasons will change, but we always believed the BNF to be infallible, so for there to be errors in the BNF – how is that even possible?

Then we read on the C+D website that the chairman of the National Pharmacy Association has had to correct the Prime Minister. In fairness, David Cameron wasn’t as unreliable as the BNF, since there were only two or three errors in his Prime Minister’s Questions answer to a question about pharmacy, but it says something when political lobbying by a trade association has to be as direct as Ian Strachan’s letter, notwithstanding his eloquence and respectful tone.

But finally, I knew the end was nigh when a 6,500-word article appears in a national newspaper alleging that the first pharmacy chain I worked for, Boots, had “gone rogue”.

Well, if these signs mean that pharmacy really is in its last days, at least I can always try to get a job as one of these recently announced 1,500 extra GP practice pharmacist positions – as long as there’s not too much of a “hoo-ha” about that.

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