I’m part of the NHS, not just an accessory to it

This year will see 70 years since the so-called ‘Appointed Day’, designated by the National Health Act of 1946. The National Health Service’s first day of operation. I find myself invited to take part in a local expert panel convened to discuss this momentous day and deliberate on the future of this great national institution.

My preparatory ruminating, invariably leading me to reflect on the present state of the NHS and the future of community pharmacy. The Beveridge report published in 1942 formed the basis for the creation of the National Health Service. It was a time of great political Statesmanship and conviction politics. Churchill, Attlee, Bevan, Wilson, Morrison and et al not to forget the indomitable Ellen Wilkinson. The political sparring and wrangling, deal-making, discontent, inpatient clamour and general public discussion around this in my opinion not matched by anything since. The transformation the NHS brought, enabling everyone to access free healthcare with pharmaceutical services included. The pharmacy premises of that day are certainly a world removed from today but importantly people could access their local service and the expertise it offered. The narrative of community pharmacies evolution since the ‘Appointed day’ I would simply put as delivering efficiently what has always been asked of us. Whilst like every other part of the healthcare system we have areas we can improve on, community pharmacy certainly delivers a great service. Our responsiveness, innovation and adaptability is nowhere more evident than in the independent pharmacy sector. The story of the NHS even in those infancy days involves battling with the financial pressures and fighting to remain true to its core values.…

Core Belief: Community Pharmacy Works

‘We have unique strengths and deliver immensely valuable benefits to patients, communities and the NHS. The network of local pharmacies must remain the beating heart of pharmaceutical care in the community.’

Ade Williams is the Superintendent pharmacist at Bedminster Pharmacy in Bristol. Bedminster is a multi-award winning pharmacy, including 4 titles at this years C+D Awards 2017 where Ade himself was crowned as both Community Pharmacist of the Year and Manager of the Year. As a new parent, I have found myself many times observing how the newborn’s journey parallels the story of community pharmacy presently. (Health warning: excessive coffee ingestion and sleep deprivation does play a part in this). Baby plays with his toys, then after a short time pays no attention anymore to the lights, sounds and props all expertly affixed to withstand the falls, strains and pulls that he dishes out to it. He simply moves on. This is apparently very common behaviour, his mum read up on it. Rather than chase him about with the toy looking distressed (my ploy), mum takes it away and reintroduces it to him after a few days. The skill and expertise that put the toy together, is once again tested, as joyful playtime and relief (mine) sets in. The question I ask is why do we take things of value for granted? I do feel community pharmacy remains the underestimated, undervalued resource at the bottom of the NHS pile, that gets called upon reluctantly and yet consistently delivers for the NHS, time and again beyond expectation.…