David Steel, Locum Community Pharmacist.
When I read about the proposed extension of the EMAS service to include all patients I felt a wee bit nauseous and more than a bit nervous.
The Minor Ailments service has been a success in reducing some needless traffic to the GP and by giving us an opportunity to establish patient loyalty and therefore better patient knowledge of the clinical presentation of the patient. It has been difficult to police in some areas, though, and speaking as a Locum some Managers are more generous than others and it may often be difficult to adhere to your own prescribing decisions. Allowing all customers access to the service creates more of a problem for multiples than Pharmacist-owned shops. Independents, in my experience, have more staff, more space and more of a support structure within the company. Multiples, as we have all seen, are struggling to employ Pharmacists and technicians and are losing many established and experienced staff.
With Community Pharmacy losing many of these staff to GPs or from the career entirely it leaves us dependent on newer, less trained staff. If we are spending more time with customers then this may be an issue.
Are we taking every customer into the consultation room? If not, the new GDPR regulations may be tested.
I would hope that any new service should have strict, pared-down national formulary in order to standardise patient care and provide a cost-effective service. I was under the impression that CMS active patients would increase dramatically after the new GP contract but other than Fife, which I rarely work in, I’ve seen no difference. CMS was a great idea but implementing the service without full GP support has stalled its development. Any improvement of the service would be welcomed and if a GP can basically write-off a stable patient for 6 to 12 months it must help their workload and it allows pharmacies to organise their days and weeks much better. It reduces drug overuse and wastage and promotes the Pharmacist as first-line for drug information.
I work for a number of companies in a wide variety of areas and the loss of established staff in community pharmacy is something that I’d like to see taken seriously at the highest level. Stagnant wages, poor support from head offices, increased managerial stress and huge increases in script numbers and services are driving people away. I’ve seen more staff changes in the last 2 years than the previous 15 combined and that benefits nobody. The new Pharmacy First scheme should be commended but I know of some owners that don’t participate due to poor remuneration. Let’s sort out the fundamental issues in Community Pharmacy so that we can provide the services that are available to the best of our ability.