Hot topics

Hot topics

​Join in with the latest conversations taking place across pharmacy.
Jan 04, 2023

How integrated is your pharmacy within your PCN

We are actively ignored and excluded by our PCN who make any contact as difficult and fruitless as possible. To be fair to them, they treat the public in the same way, being completely invisible to anyone but GP surgeries and communicating with no one else... when I did find a way in it was short lived and obviously done to tick their box saying contact made with "Pharmacy"  They dont employ Pharmacists locally, doing all their Pharmacist work remotely via a Tele Pharmacy organisation who have no interest in helping me here. A local Pharmacist who happened to be near two GPs discussing PCNs overheard them saying that "if they think we are spending any money in Pharmacy services they can get lost" which sums up their attitude nicely.
Aug 16, 2022

GPhC: FtP cases ‘ongoing’ after an inquest into death by codeine abuse + online providers

I am an experienced specialist pharmacist prescriber in substance misuse, I deal with patients every day like Katie Emma Corrigan who have had similar backgrounds. Sadly, it's very easy to be focused that the dispensing of codeine was to blame for her demise. I agree that issuing of control drugs should be tighter by prescribers. Independent prescribers in my view are being exploited, being allowed to work for conveyor belt prescribing organizations. Some form of formal contact is essential to prescribe in my view phone calls video call or face-to-face (which is the gold standard) The GP should not have abruptly stopped her codeine – this is improper Things went wrong when the GP stopped her prescription: “When the weaknesses in the GP prescribing system were identified, the GP refused to prescribe further Zapain without a discussion with Mrs. Corrigan” This may have caused a drop in tolerance and forced the patient to seek illicit drugs or drugs via other means putting the patient at risk. The article should be about how we manage opiate risks. And the correct referral pathway should be built into systems to identify these and manage such risks. Referral to specialist opiate/substance misuse services The focus has been on codeine its classification and how easy to obtain, which in my eyes is a polarised view and does not address a wider problem.
Jun 23, 2022

Toni Hazell: Opinion I miss the comments under the articles, but despite knowing that almost no-one will read this post... ...I just wanted to applaud the last two paragraphs in Toni's piece above. Universally applicable across healthcare these days, and many other walks of life, too. 
Jun 01, 2022

"My thanks to community pharmacy"

Inspired by this Twitter's your chance to pay tribute to community pharmacy and thanks those individuals who have inspired you along the way. (Add yours by commenting below) Clare Howard, clinical lead for medicines optimisation at Wessex Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) “I would like to thank England Pharmacy in Wigan for opening the door to the world of pharmacy to me. I started there in 1988 as a Saturday girl. I had been a waitress (a job I hated) and so it was lovely to start work in a family-run, busy, friendly community pharmacy in Gidlow, Wigan. I am so grateful to Mr England for letting the clumsy, clueless girl that I was, loose on the customers and patients of Gidlow.  “All human life was there. I learned so much in that job. Firstly, I have never laughed so much. The ‘girls’ who worked in the shop and dispensary were all so good to me and the banter was priceless. But I also saw real hardship too: people with serious addiction problems; older people struggling with their mobility; as well as the usual community pharmacy bread and butter of pregnancy testing, children's illness, long-term conditions and people seeking advice and reassurance from a professional person in their high street.  “These formative years have shaped my career. You cannot work in a pharmacy like England's and not see how important community pharmacy is to the people it serves. I saw the GPs and nurses in the practice across the road as part of the team I was in – we must preserve this model of care close to home.  “I had no idea then that this part-time job would open up to me a career that has given me so much. I have worked in all sorts of pharmacy roles, but I have never forgotten the things I learned at the start. Thank you Mr and Mrs England, I am forever in your debt.”    Neelm Saini, pharmacist manager at Cookham Pharmacy in Berkshire “I began my community pharmacy career at the age of 16, working on ‘cash’n’wrap’ (aka the till) at Boots in Redhill for four hours each Saturday. This continued while I completed my GCSEs, A-Levels and degree, and developed from working on the till to other shop duties, but most importantly for me, I was trained to work behind the chemist counter. “The branch manager at the time was Mr Burridge and he was a fine example of a gentleman and a pharmacist. Nothing phased him and I can only ever remember him smiling, being forever present on the shop floor – the true face of the pharmacy. Margaret and Jenny were two other pharmacists that worked at the branch. Jenny (bless her) had the tough time of introducing me to the dispensary on a day when they were short staffed. “In my early days, I recall placing an order for 100 plastipak syringes – except I didn’t appreciate that they came in outers of 100 and so I was welcomed the next morning by a wall of 100 boxes. Let’s just say I wasn’t popular that day! Pre-regs came and went and I was inspired. Sarah was one that I will always remember. Her last day was a very eventful Saturday…I don’t think what she went through that day is even listed in the official competencies! But she made it. “Denise Ede took me though my pre-reg at Boots in Horley. She was fantastic! I had THE best pre-reg year with a brilliant tutor. Her advice on my first day has always stuck with me: ‘Start the day with a clear and organised bench.’”   Ade Williams, lead prescribing pharmacist at Bedminster Pharmacy in South Bristol and director and superintendent pharmacist of the M J Williams Pharmacy Group “Traherne Pharmacy in Hove was across the road from us when I arrived to live in Hove with my aunt. I walked past it every day on my way to college and my aunt – a nurse – advised me to chat to the pharmacist about his career. “He completely sold it to me. It was the richness of the humanity and the access I loved. A local NHS bastion, always with a friendly, welcoming ambience.”   Bruce Warner, NHS England’s deputy chief pharmaceutical officer “Once I qualified from Sunderland [university], I followed my heart to the north west where by now wife was also doing her pre-reg year – being brought up in the home counties it was certainly very different. I did my pre-reg in Boots in Wigan (what a great place!) and then went on the obligatory ‘milk round’ with Boots all over Merseyside. “I remember very soon after I had qualified, I was working in the St Helen’s branch when an elderly man came up to the dispensary counter and asked to speak to the pharmacist. The dispenser said ‘certainly’ and came to fetch me. As I walked out, the patient took one look at me and said: ‘He won’t know anything’ and simply walked off. I was crushed, a newly qualified pharmacist low on confidence and trying to establish himself in the workplace and the profession. “I reflected on that for a long time and in hindsight decided the patient was probably right – a few weeks after qualifying I knew nothing. I want to thank that patient for making me realise that there is absolutely no substitute for experience and actually doing the job. That sixth sense that only develops over time that something is not quite right – there are no shortcuts, no matter how well you are trained. “I have never forgotten the look on that patient’s face or how I felt that morning and would like to think I became a much better pharmacist as a result of that experience. I owe that patient a debt of gratitude for setting me off on the right foot and helping me realise that without the confidence of the patient, we as pharmacists are helpless.”    
May 04, 2022

Statement on Aquiette Proposal by Dr Julian Spinks

My name is Dr Julian Spinks and I am a general practitioner with a specialist interest in the management of incontinence. The proposal to make low-dose oxybutynin (Aquiette) available through pharmacies needs to be viewed against a background of the large number of women who suffer from urinary incontinence caused by overactive bladder. Despite the increasing visibility of incontinence products in adverts, incontinence continues to be a condition which is associated with significant embarrassment and stigma. This often leads to long delays before women seek help from healthcare professionals. These women miss out on early opportunities to treat the underlying cause of their incontinence, such as overactive bladder. Widening the availability of treatment with low-dose oxybutynin through pharmacies offers women with the early stages of overactive bladder an additional way to receive the help they need if they do not wish to consult their GP or a continence service. Oxybutynin is already widely in use as a prescription-only treatment for overactive bladder and, together with other anticholinergic bladder drugs, remains recommended by NICE as a first-line prescribed pharmacological treatment for overactive bladder following bladder training (Bladder training is a way of teaching the bladder to hold more urine and helps to reduce the number of times a person needs to pass urine and to reduce incontinence) Long-term use Oxybutynin is not suitable for some women, particularly older women who are at a greater risk of physical or mental decline and NICE recommends it is not used in this group. The current proposal is for short-term (12 weeks maximum), low-dose, oxybutynin in 18 to 65 year-olds. This would only be offered after a pharmacist has assessed to ensure it is appropriate to use in the individual. The dose and duration proposed are highly unlikely to present the same concerns than long term use of higher-dose anticholinergic medications on prescription. The oxybutynin is being offered together with bladder training. This offers an opportunity for the woman to reduce the progression of her overactive bladder and should diminish the need for ongoing pharmacological treatment at the end of the course. An additional proposed protection is that those women who continue to have problems will be advised to seek advice from their doctor or from a continence service. Given the large numbers of women who do not seek help but continue to suffer from urinary incontinence due to overactive bladder, I view the availability of low-dose oxybutynin through pharmacies to be an extremely positive development and an important way to improve women’s health.
Apr 15, 2022


Why would a pharmacist refuse to sell me, a pensioner, a common medical product I have used throughout my life to treat an occasional condition to good effect? I ask because that is what happened to me this week at my local chemists. The condition was an eye infection - a stye - and the product I sought to buy was Gold Eye Ointment, which I have always found to be easily available. My experience began when, with red, inflamed eye, I was asked by the counter assistant why I wanted the product. I then stood there - feeling somewhat vilified - while the assistant held a lengthy discussion with the pharmacist, to be told he would hold a consultation with me. If I had wanted a consultation I would have seen a GP. The pharmacist then became involved in a consultation with a mother and child, on the shop floor and I decided to leave. He spoke to me as I was leaving and I asked if he would allow me to buy the product - he said no. I purchased the product a short while later from a chemist in the same group a few miles away. The assistant merely asked two questions relating to contact lenses and diabetes. Having read the many articles on this site and elsewhere relating to big developments with pharmacists regarding consultations and fast-track training to become GPs - and the great enthusiasm and, in some cases zeal, created - I understand the drive to offer a better public service. But where are the checks and balances? In my case, and I suspect many others, I was denied the simple opportunity to treat a condition I knew with a product I've known and used since childhood without ill effect. How is this improving anything?
Mar 24, 2022

Did you or your pharmacy make use of any of the provisions under the Coronavirus Act?

The Coronavirus Act formed one of the pillars of the government’s plan to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by envisaging changes in legislation which gave “public bodies across the UK the tools and powers they need to carry out an effective response to [the] emergency” the pandemic presented. Do you think the Coronavirus Act helped pharmacy teams? Do you think it will have a lasting impact on pharmacy?
Mar 23, 2022

Crime in pharmacies: Have you/your team been the victim of crime while at work? Did this involve violence and/or harassment?

The latest revelation from C+D's investigation into crime in pharmacies - #NoExcuseForAbuse - found that police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland received at least 1,240 reports of violent crime committed in pharmacies in 2021. Are you surprised by these findings? What is your experience of crime and or harassment/violence at work? Share your thoughts and stories below, or email if you wish to remain anonymous
Feb 26, 2022

Will Patients Pay for LFTs?

Do you think people will pay for lateral flow tests? I can't see it happening unless there is an immediate and coerced need to do so. I'm wondering if it is going to have a direct impact on the overall health of the community? Or maybe the variants will become milder to the point where there is no reasonable benefit to isolation? I'd never pay for an LFT. Ever. 
Jan 07, 2022

What is your favourite thing about working in community pharmacy?

There has been a lot of discussion around community pharmacy employers struggling to recruit and retain pharmacists and pharmacy staff, with the prospect of "better working conditions" and career opportunities in primary care prompting many to leave the sector. Also see C+D's Big Debate on the topic: But Shenu Barclay recently celebrated 45 years in community pharmacy and shows no signs of stopping a career that she loves, but didn't choose. What do you love about working in community pharmacy? Share your favourite experiences and career highlights below
Jan 06, 2022

COVID tests and the PSNC

The most important questions about the current debacle are - Who in the PSNC thought it would be acceptable (much less a good idea) to say yes to the stupidity of the 16 digit code? what did they think this would take in terms of resources? did the contractors agree to put in extra to cope, paid for by the payment we recieve? for too long they have said yes to ANYTHING which brings in a few mor pennies irrespective of how much work is involved... maybe they should be the ones doing it.

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