GP blog: ‘It isn’t about them and us anymore.’

Four pharmacists collaborating: Harper Review

An editorial in a GP magazine which queried the existence of community pharmacies has been criticised by editor of Scotland’s Pharmacy in Practice Ross Ferguson, who says the original article missed the point.

“In his leader yesterday, Nigel Praities, editor of Pulse, turned all tabloid on us,” wrote Ferguson, an ex-contractor with experience as a locum and an employee pharmacist, and creator of the children’s medicines app Kid-Dose. “And by us, I mean community pharmacy.”

Praities said that if the NHS were to be created again from scratch, he doubted anyone would invent community pharmacies; that pharmacists were good at their jobs but their location “tucked behind shelves of corn plasters and toothpaste” needed to be questioned; and that if pharmacists can offer professional services GPs ought to have the option to dispense.

“I know this may come as a shock, but GP practices aren’t the centre of the healthcare universe,” wrote Ferguson in a response to Praities’ blog.

“We don’t judge the value of other services on their proximity to a building containing GPs.

“Being ‘a few streets away’ – shudder at the thought – from GP practices doesn’t make us less relevant, it makes us more relevant, because we are where the people are: council estates, rural locations, the centre of communities.

“It might not be glamorous, but people can turn up without an appointment, in a less formal environment, to get information, advice, empathy, support and much, much more.

“Pharmacies are the beating hearts of their communities and we are valued by the people we help.”

Ferguson cited the success of the National Pharmacy Association petition against the pharmacy cuts, which now has over a million signatures.

“Patients somehow managed to navigate their way to these pharmacies despite them being a few streets away from GP practices – imagine that.”

He says that pharmacists need to forge closer ties with GPs and other health professionals, and that when it comes to thinking differently to help save the NHS money, the patient still needs to be at the centre.

“It isn’t about them and us anymore. Time to move the debate on. We need to work together.”

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