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Letter: Copperfield, the NHS needs pharmacists



From Neal Patel, pharmacist, The Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Perhaps we shouldn’t rise to the bait, but we feel it’s only right to stand up for those who felt offended by the thoughtless and deliberately provocative remarks in Dr Copperfield ‘s blog.

Despite the original intention, which we can only hope was to be controversial for the sake of attention, it is in the context of change, challenge and austerity that the NHS faces, that this blog has been published.

We agree that we all have a responsibility to look at how best finite NHS resources can be used more effectively to improve patient care, however we believe that it is through harnessing the skills and commitment of doctors, health visitors and pharmacists we will improve patient outcomes and  save the NHS money.

Pharmacists have a vital role in helping the NHS make the shift from siloed to integrated care and are fulfilling the pressing need to do more for less. Like Doctors we’re working incredibly hard with less time and resources.  

In fact pharmacists all over the country are already working more closely with patients and healthcare colleagues including doctors, in hospitals, outreach teams, patient’s homes, residential care, hospices, and general practice as well as in community pharmacies.

As highly-skilled professionals they do have a thing or two to advise GPs on, such as safe and effective prescribing of medicines, utilising evidence based practice, and medicines use by patients, to name just a few! Perhaps Dr Copperfield doesn’t know that his bacon has been saved many times by a pharmacist…

 And yes, we can do more and do it really well. Local pilots show that collaboration and sharing clinical information with pharmacists have huge benefits in terms of safer, better patient care. But for this to be successful everywhere it needs a shift in thinking. We suggest Copperfield read the recently-published Pulse article, How we reduced workload by working with pharmacists.  

Perhaps it is time to drop the sarcasm and focus on the positive. In between blogging and caring for patients, maybe  Dr Copperfield could take some time out  to harness the relationship with his local pharmacists which will improve the care provided for patients. We would be delighted to help.