by Nicola Gray, RPS Regional Liaison Pharmacist
I have no doubt that the success of forthcoming integration across systems and sectors is going to be determined by the strength of personal relationships between stakeholders. Human beings crave connection with others above all else and the strength and authenticity of these connections will influence partnership working.
These connections cannot be formed ‘on demand’. Sometimes people meet and immediately recognise a ‘soul mate’, personal or professional, but this is rare. And even then, we have to hope that the first flush of exhilaration for a strong new connection settles into something enduring and mutually enriching.
I was recently a guest of Greater Manchester LPC at the NPA Conference in Manchester, and a thread about relationships became apparent across a number of presentations. Ed Waller from NHSE highlighted the importance of developing relationships and collaborative networks to enable community pharmacy to play its optimum role in PCNs. Simon Dukes from PSNC reflected on why partnerships fail, including lack of trust, stalemate, and the perceived power of one party over the other.
Later, Rose Marie Parr, Chief Pharmacist in the Scottish Government, countered that good relationships are built upon a shared vision, effective leadership and trust. Russell Goodway from Community Pharmacy Wales spoke of delivering a shared ambition through a willing partnership, and our own Paul Bennett spoke of unprecedented co-operation among representative bodies through aligning on the major issues facing pharmacists
Focus on what’s real
I think it is time to reflect on the strongest connections and most enduring, authentic relationships that each pharmacist has made – without exploiting them but focusing on mutual benefit. An obvious source of many enduring connections for pharmacy is with patients. How can pharmacists really tune into those connections to find out what is most relevant and valuable to their local population? Is that not the foundation on which our ‘offer’ to the local health system must be based? How, can we then share this common vision and facilitate strategic change at local level? NHSE is sending a strong message through PSNC that a ‘tsunami’ of separate pharmacy approaches to PCNs will not be welcomed. What is needed is a coordinated effort from contractors within each locality.
Make use of support
We should also reflect on wider support from the pharmacy system that we can draw upon. From connections with colleagues in local hospitals, and our ‘academic hubs’ in our Schools of Pharmacy. Reminding us who we are, where we have been, and where we are going – not least with what we have to offer to the health system of our understanding of new medicines and new science. For those who already have strong and enduring relationships with multidisciplinary partners in primary care and beyond, try to anticipate the turbulence that they must also be experiencing and consider how you can help them to achieve shared objectives for your community.
So let’s take stock now of our best and most enduring connections, and pool our knowledge to make maximum impact when the time is right.
Our new resource on system leadership helps point the way. It includes case studies from pharmacists working in different levels of the system and links to tools, standards and guides to develop the leadership qualities required to work collaboratively across boundaries within your local health and care systems.