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Pharmacy services will be good for GPs

Your article on the pharmacy white paper is one-sided and alarmist.

The Government's white paper, Pharmacy in England - Building on Strengths, Delivering the Future, describes how the resources of community pharmacy could be used to provide patients with better access to a wider range of health and wellbeing services. It is based on local examples of best practice that are already working. If the NHS is to manage capacity issues and meet the public's expectations of primary care, new and better ways must be found to use resources, not just in some parts of the country, but in all. Far from being a threat to GPs, pharmacy services such as those in the white paper can be part of the solution to capacity problems in general practice. I would have thought the benefits to GPs of a pharmacy minor ailments service, for example, are self-evident.

More importantly, service developments in primary care should be driven by the interests of patients, not of GPs and pharmacists. The services we wish to see, many of which are articulated in the white paper, will improve access, convenience and choice for patients. We are not seeking competition between GPs and pharmacists, nor do we want or expect patients to be compelled to see a pharmacist rather than their GP. Indeed, it may be that some patients choose to visit their GPs to obtain advice or treatment for a minor ailment, for example, or for advice on weight management or sexual health. Some may question whether that represents the best use of resources, but no one, in pharmacy at least, is suggesting that those patients be forced to do otherwise.

Rather than encourage distrust and territorial jealousy through your front page, would it not be in the public's interest to encourage collaboration between pharmacy and general practice? For our part, we are keen to work in collaboration, not in competition, with GPs and their representatives, to deliver services that are good for patients.

From Sue Sharpe, CEO, Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee

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