We need to dig further and unveil the truth, if we are to understand pharmacists and take proper action to support them, says The Pharmacist reporter Léa Legraien.
The recent BBC investigation ‘Boots: Pharmacists under pressure?’, which looked at workload pressure and dispensing errors in Boots pharmacies, just added more fire to the pharmacy debate.
The documentary highlighted an on going issue but it didn’t scratch the surface, as to why so much pressure is being heaped on pharmacy.
It’s been over a year since the Government cut community pharmacy funding, leaving many pharmacists struggling to keep their business going while trying to deliver safe patient care.
Funding for GP practice-based pharmacists is going up while the budget for community pharmacy is being cut. Yet, many health organisations, included the NHS and the King’s Fund, have demonstrated that pharmacies can help take pressure off other NHS services.
Healthcare professionals don’t intend to make mistakes and when these occur, we need to look at the reasons, which include the pressure they are under and their current working conditions.
The BBC documentary was a good first step to unveil what’s going on in the industry. However, we need more documentaries that explore what it’s really like to be a pharmacist – not just from a patient or organisation’s perspective, but behind the counter when they disappear to get these awaited medicines to give the public an accurate picture of today’s pharmacists’ struggles.
As gatekeepers of the NHS, pharmacies are vital. But they can’t deliver safe patient-centred care with rising workload, a lack of appropriate guidance and, most of all, funding cuts.
So, here we go back to the root of the problem: money. When money is tight, services are inevitably reduced.
Some patients complain about the time it takes pharmacists to dispense drugs, which is understandable, as no one likes long waiting times.
But with an increasing ageing population and more complex conditions than ever before, do we want pharmacists to deliver the correct medications with patient-tailored advice or a fast service with potential deadly dispensing mistakes?
We’re all human, we all make mistakes and it doesn’t exclude pharmacists.