New Year, same old problems


By Dr Livingstone
GP blogger

15 Jan 2020

The festive period did nothing to lift the spirits of our GP logger Dr Livingstone

How are those New Year resolutions going? Not well, I imagine. Especially if, like me, you had resolved to be a bit less of a cynical old git.

I blame The Pharmacist. Specifically, its ‘top stories’ list: if those didn’t induce a bout of hollow laughter then I can only assume you’re too virally laryngitic to chortle. There, at number two (when I last looked) in the ‘most read’ chart was the unshuffled health secretary Matt Hancock’s own resolution to, and I quote, ‘unleash the potential of community pharmacy’.

Wow. And he’s going to do this because, apparently, there is ‘so much more’ that pharmacists are ‘capable of doing’. By which he doesn’t mean travelling or hang-gliding or any of those other things you promise yourself you’ll do when you finally quit. No, he’s referring to you becoming the first port of call for minor illness and being at the forefront of ‘a decade of prevention of ill health’.

But I have some doubts about whether this vision will inspire you to man the barricades against the health threats posed by tobacco, rhinoviruses and so on. And that’s because of numbers one and four on The Pharmacist’s most read articles list.

The former points out that more than half of pharmacists are reconsidering their career because of burnout. While the latter explains that, of those hardy 50% who do intend to persevere, four in ten plan to change their workplace setting in the next three years. Which should be no great surprise given that the recently released draft service specifications for Primary Care Networks imposes a huge burden on networks, centring on enhanced health in care homes and structured medication reviews – and therefore promises enticing job opportunities for disillusioned community pharmacists.

Quite where that leaves Matt Hancock’s vision for high-street pharmacy is unclear: it’s pretty pointless to unleash a vacuum.

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