Core Belief: ‘Change is inevitable and necessary’

'Pharmacies must be progressive and modern, while at the same time being true to the historic values of pharmacy as a personal, caring profession. In particular, the sector must work to optimise the use of technology to strengthen pharmacy’s locally based service proposition.'

Mike Hewitson is an independent pharmacy contractor for Beaminster Pharmacy, West Dorset and sits on the board for the NPA and PSNC. Mike has contributed to a number of pharmacy publications including Chemist+Druggist and Pharmacy Magazine, and has acted as a spokesperson for the NPA on many occasions for media channels in the UK, including BBC, Guardian, Independent on Sunday and The Observer. Given that we find ourselves in stormy waters with funding cuts and numerous other threats on the horizon, it is natural to want to park up in a safe harbour and wait out the storm, but if we are all not careful, we could end up trapped and at risk of sinking. Change is not only inevitable, it is healthy and an essential part of any successful business. The Government reform programme in my view is exactly the wrong type of change, delivered in the worst possible way, but if we don’t like the path they are laying out for us, we must aim to progress along a different path, not seek to stand still. Customer service expectations now are in a completely different place than they were 15 years ago, not only do people want a fast and efficient service, but they also want to access it when and how they choose to.…

Hub and spoke was, and still is, a dangerous idea

It is a year since the NPA published the report of its hub and spoke task group – An Evidence Based Policy Review. The report concluded that hub and spoke between different companies is fraught with difficulties for independents and presents dangers for the sector when set in the context of the government’s current cost-focused (rather than value-focused) policy approach

‘Hub and spoke’ is a phrase that covers a range of models – not all of them unworkable or undesirable. But in the current climate, the models most likely to gain momentum, if they are permitted to start rolling, are completely at odds with the interests of independents and ultimately our patients. Elements in Government, especially the money men at the Treasury, want a hollowed out local pharmacy service, and hub and spoke fits into their plans nicely.  It is a necessary element of large scale automated dispensing and distance supply, which would be at the expense of locally based provision.  A race to the bottom which ultimately impacts on patient care. The Government consultation said one thing while doing another – allowing collection from surgeries, hospitals and other locations – bypassing the ‘spoke’ altogether. Therefore hub and spoke was, at the time of our report, and still is, a dangerous idea – particularly when propagated by those with only a part of the overall picture. On the whole, NPA members are highly sceptical about hub and spoke. Yes, pharmacies must always look to become more efficient and to create headroom for services, but grand infrastructure schemes like hub and spoke are not the way – massive infrastructure costs and unproven benefits.…