Dear reader,

Saying goodbye means acknowledging that something is over. No one likes endings and I am no exception.

When I joined The Pharmacist as a reporter in October 2017, little did I know that I would grow a strong interest in the pharmacy sector. As the months went by, I became quite passionate about finding out what makes pharmacists tick and revealing some of the hidden injustices affecting them.

It is not without shame that I have to admit that I would not necessarily have used a community pharmacy myself as first port of call for a minor ailment a year ago. But only fools don’t change their minds, so they say. Time and research have shown me that pharmacists have the skills to help reduce some of the pressures in other NHS services. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness of what they have to offer has been a barrier to better integrate them into the health system.

Looking back over the past year, I’m truly amazed at how tough pharmacists are. Despite all the challenges in their way, whether the funding cuts, category M clawbacks or medicines shortages, pharmacists have shown resilience and held their heads up high.

This is something I see myself every time I visit a pharmacy when feeling poorly. I often think ‘surely the staff has bigger problems to think of than advising me on my chesty cough’. Yet, pharmacists are always welcoming and beaming – and that’s when I know that the patient comes first rule truly finds its place in pharmacy.

Gone is the era when chemists were just blending and dispensing medicines. Who would have thought 50 years ago that one day patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) could get tested in a pharmacy or that pharmacists would be able to support people with a mental health condition?

The sector has so much to offer to the NHS and, more importantly, to the public. But it takes time to change people’s mindsets and the voices of pharmacists often go unheard. I am yet to see pharmacists truly being part of the health prevention agenda as keenly promised by the Government in November.

Every good thing comes to an end but this isn’t really goodbye. Although I won’t be bringing you the latest updates in the pharmacy world anymore, I’ll see you every time I need healthcare advice or treatment in your pharmacy – where you shine.

It is said that after every storm comes a rainbow, with the promise of sunshine following the rain. If this applies to pharmacy, then brighter days are ahead.

And when these come, I will feel happy and proud to know that I would have played a part in this, however small, by writing about such a wonderful profession.

Thank you for reading my pieces.