New Government, new opportunity?

18 May 2017

Politics – some love it (myself included), most hate it but we all talk about it and we all have an opinion. For pharmacy, politics has been centre stage for at least the last 18 months with no sign of this changing in the foreseeable future.

The public have certainly made their feelings known to Government on just how important community pharmacy is to them; in the midst of the Brexit referendum, a change of Prime Minister and a junior doctors’ strike, Community Pharmacy collected over 2 million signatures protesting plans to cut its funding – a petition that would prove to be one of the biggest in UK history.

It’s quite clear to anyone prepared to listen – voters do not want funding for pharmacies cut, they do not want services reduced and they categorically do not want their local chemist to close. With that message still ringing in the ears of candidates up and down the country, pharmacy has become an important issue in this latest election campaign.

Capitalising on the relationships we have built with key Parliamentarians, we have already exerted a formative influence on pharmacy policies within all three of the major UK-wide parties’ manifestos. And this influencing will continue as we redeploy our lobby your MP tool to target candidates at this election (more on this next week). In fact, much of the information we would like policy leaders to known can be found on a dedicated website, developed in collaboration with all the major representative bodies for pharmacy:

The NPA continues to take the lead in helping our elected officials understand exactly why it is we are so valued by the communities we serve. But, for all our political experience and expertise, the best advocate for pharmacy will always be you. Whether you are a local pharmacist providing vital health services to your local community, or a user of community pharmacy that depends on the services we provide – you need to speak out at this election.

If you run a community pharmacy – don’t let what you do be taken for granted. Help those seeking election to understand the vital work you do, not only in the safe distribution of medicines but also in preventing avoidable visits to our already hard-pressed GPs and Accident and Emergency Departments. And let them know how much more you could do, with consistent support from Government.

If you are a patient who depends upon your local chemist, let candidates know how you feel when they knock on your door. Make them understand what the face-to-face contact and reassurance that only your pharmacy can provide, means to you.

In the end, only you have the reach and credibility to make politicians truly understand the value of pharmacy.

Next week, I’ll take a look at some of the ways the NPA can help you to get through to these candidates; including new tools we are developing to make this easier than ever. We’ll also explore the progress of the election to date, the latest ‘winners-and-losers’ in the opinion polls and – most importantly – what this all might mean for pharmacy as a newly elected Government begins to emerge.

Chris Ford was recently appointed as Head of Parliamentary Affairs at the NPA. He has previously worked for several MPs, a US Senator, the UN and as a political advisor to a number or large corporations and trade bodies. He is also a politician himself, having been elected as a Parish and District Councillor in May 2015.