Costanza Pearce unpacks our roundup of this year’s top five stories from The Pharmacist


Wow, what a year. A new five-year contract, apprenticeship proposals, a national consultation service, accusations of contractor fraud and the advent of primary care networks (PCNs) across England.

Pharmacy news has certainly kept us on our toes the last 12 months, but what were the most popular stories on our website?

It might surprise you which made the cut – spoiler, they’re not necessarily the ‘biggest’ stories – but here is how you voted with your clicks.


1. My views on Brexit: ‘We’ve lost one of the best pharmacy technicians we’ve ever had’

In our most-read story of 2019, one superintendent pharmacist shared his concerns about the impact of the UK exiting the EU on the pharmacy sector, as part of our ‘my views on Brexit’ series. Touching on medicines prices, shortages and staffing, Graham Phillips explained how the UK’s ‘hostile environment’ impacted a valued member of his team.

Almost a whole year on, it seems Britain is no closer to resolving our deal or no-deal dilemma and the UK’s exit date has been pushed further and further backwards. Let’s see what 2020 brings…


2. Why pharmacists’ morale has hit an all-time low

In second place is our May issue’s cover feature, where we investigated the causes behind the crisis of pharmacist burnout and what can be done to improve conditions for those on the frontline. We spoke to contractors about their experiences and analysed the results of our parent company Cogora’s survey, which found that half of contractors were thinking of leaving the profession and a staggering 70% said they were considering selling their pharmacy.


3. Unscrupulous ‘checking monkeys’: what some GP pharmacists think of their community colleagues

Our third most-read story was definitely our most controversial. Back in February, we shared the findings of a report looking into the relationships between community pharmacists and their colleagues working in GP practices, and we were outraged on your behalf. What emerged was a shockingly no holds barred picture of professional tension, so it’s no surprise that it stirred up quite the Twitter storm.

Of course, there are also many examples of practice pharmacists who are real champions for their community colleagues and now that PCNs are up and running across the country, we’re excited to see how they build on these strong working relationships. Get in touch to tell us how you’re getting on in your area.


4. Should we be putting honey on a cold sore?

The only clinical story to make it onto the list, this blog by community pharmacist and dermatology specialist Rod Tucker explored the antibacterial and antiviral properties of the common cupboard ingredient beloved by Winnie the Pooh. Mr Tucker took us through honey’s history, from the ancient medicinal uses of the sticky stuff to recent and large-scale scientific studies into its efficacy against the herpes virus.

He concluded that while the studies had some encouraging results, patients are probably still best off with the cheaper alternative of aciclovir cream – if anything at all.


5. Pre-reg exam: GPhC names worst-performing pharmacy schools

In September, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) revealed which pharmacy schools had achieved the lowest pre-reg exam pass rates in the June sitting of the assessment. On closer inspection, we found that these universities were repeat offenders. Following the results, the regulator said it would meet with the schools and work with them to ensure standards are met, so we’ll be monitoring how they get on next year.

With university applications to study pharmacy falling and the apprenticeship proposal rearing its head once again, this raises the question of whether ‘widening access’ benefits the profession after all… Let us know what you think on Twitter or via email.