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Am I the only GP shocked by the This Morning pharmacy controversy?

By Dr Livingstone
GP blogger

05 Feb 2020

Our GP blogger Dr Livingston was left reeling by recent comments made by guests on the ITV show

It has taken me about a week to respond to the ‘This Morning’ furore, in which guests on the ITV programme made some rather choice comments about community pharmacists. That’s because, unlike the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), which reacted to the programme’s segment on pharmacists with ‘disappointment and concern’, I was shocked into speechlessness.

Shocked that the guests felt affronted by pharmacists taking a greater role in opportunistically raising the issue of obesity with customers. Shocked that they thought pharmacists would do this in full ear-shot of other people. Shocked that a presenter weighed in with the thought that pharmacists might see this as a way of making money. Shocked that a guest suggested that pharmacists are perceived as ‘pretend doctors’.

And also, yes, shocked that guests/presenters had dared vocalise what a lot of people – including, let’s face it, some doctors – actually think of pharmacists. Which is, specifically, that they are GP-wannabees, good only for counting pills and flogging useless junk. Whereas real GPs, of course, provide valued confidential advice and act as advocates, with an eye on the patient’s best interests rather than the financial bottom line. Which just goes to show that the medical profession’s public relations department is working very nicely, thank you, while the pharmacists’ obviously still has some way to go.

But it’s not all bad. In a rare media spasm of self-reproach, ITV distanced itself from the, ahem, ‘light-hearted’ views expressed and plan to run another item with a ‘top pharmacist’ to redress the balance.

In the meantime, the RPS has articulated its disappointment and concern by commenting how unjust it is to denigrate a profession which, ‘on a daily basis, saves people’s lives. Though perhaps they doth protest too much, because not even a proper GP does that.

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