Who, or what inspired you to choose to study pharmacy?
When I was studying my A-levels I had a Saturday job working in my local pharmacy. I got to see first-hand the difference that community pharmacists can make to patients and their local community. This inspired me to pursue the profession as a career.
What is your practice area of interest?
I am a community pharmacist through and through. Looking after my patients and delivering the best care I can are my main priorities. I also, however, have an interest in shaping the bigger picture and enjoy bringing my grassroots background to the bigger stage.
Would you consider moving into a GP practice role?
Never say never! I have, however, spent all of my career working in community pharmacy. I enjoy the bustle and variety. I also believe that the community sector has so much more to give than it currently does to help patients. This is where I would like to focus my energies.
What does community pharmacy need to do to survive?
We need to move away from a supply-based funding model to one which focusses on services.
Community pharmacy provides a safe efficient mechanism for supplying medicines to patients and this needs to be maintained. We are living through times of great strain on the NHS and there is a golden opportunity to put pharmacy at the heart of the solution.
We need to be fully utilising the skills within pharmacy teams and unlocking the potential within community pharmacy to help solve the NHS’s problems. To do this we need to do more than just supplying medicines and think boldly about what services we can deliver and how we can release strain elsewhere in the system.
Making this leap will ensure survival, be more fulfilling for all of us, and most importantly, be better for patients.
How did you get to be on the Rebalancing Board?
I’ve always taken the view that if an opportunity to affect change comes your way you must seize it. If you don’t then you can’t complain about the outcome! So, when several years ago now my Superintendent was looking for a volunteer for a real-world pharmacist representative on the board I put myself forward.
I’ve greatly enjoyed the experience so far. That I have played even a small part in the decriminalisation of inadvertent dispensing errors is something I’m extremely proud of.
Do you think the rebalancing board is representative of pharmacy?
The board has membership from across the spectrum of pharmacy. There are a vast range of different organisations within pharmacy and it isn’t possible to have each and every one of them represented at the board. This is a prime example of where having a strong professional body, representing all of our views is really important. Having said that, the board could do more to engage with the wider profession. There was recently a Partners Forum meeting and I hope there will be more such events more frequently in future.
Are you suspicious that the board has a hidden agenda?
Quite Simply, No. The board does not have a hidden agenda.
What is your view on technician supervision?
I have the greatest respect for my technician colleagues, however I believe that supervision within community pharmacy is a role which should be pharmacist-led. I’m really not comfortable with handing this aspect of our role to pharmacy technicians.
We undoubtedly need to be looking at skill-mix within our teams and how we fully utilise different skill sets such as registered technician checkers. This is not necessarily dependent on change to supervision laws.
Skill-mix change should be enabling to release pharmacists from the checking role, not to release them from the supervision role. The two are different functions and pharmacist supervision, in my view, is still needed to maintain patient safety.
Why should non-members join the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS)?
There are a multitude of reasons to be a member. The benefits range from direct to practice benefits such as education and help with revalidation to national based benefits such as having representation on national boards and access to leaders within government representing members interests and influencing national policy.
Without an engaged membership and a strong mandate, such messages are diminished and we all suffer as a result.
What does the RPS do well and what could it do better?
More recently I’ve seen some really good pieces coming out of the RPS with more relevance to me as a community pharmacist.
For example, there is the series of revalidation roadshows coming up and there have also been strong leadership messages coming out of the organisation on national issues relating to the community pharmacy sector.
What could it do better? Well, I think it could still do a better communication job and many of my peers still don’t see the benefit of paying the registration fees. Driving that relevance to community pharmacy practice agenda is still something which needs work.
What is your five-year plan?
I want to remain as a community pharmacist, however I hope that the role changes to a more clinically focused service derived role. I have recently enrolled into the Pharmacy Integration Fund (PhIF) funded clinical pharmacy certificate programme at De Montfort University and aim to follow this with study for a prescribing qualification.
My plan is to up-skill myself ready for opportunities as they arise and be in a position to deliver the new way of working which I believe is vital to the survival of community pharmacy.
If we met at a conference and were not allowed to talk about pharmacy or the weather, what topic would you choose?
Travel! I love to get away with family and friends whether it’s just for the day or if I’m lucky – longer! Visiting new places and especially getting off the beaten track is a real love of mine!
David Gallier-Harris is a Pharmacy Manager for a large multiple in the West Midlands and a member of the Rebalancing Medicines Legislation and Pharmacy Regulation Programme Board
These are his personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect those of any companies, or organisations with which he is affiliated