By Sandra Gidley, RPS President
Pharmacists are highly trained and knowledgeable health professionals. We are available without appointment in our local communities and are on hand in our hospitals to advise patients and doctors on the safe and effective use of medicine. Many people really value and often rely on their pharmacist to help to keep them well, so I was disappointed to see an opportunity to highlight the valuable role they play completely missed by ITV on its This Morning show last week.
And I was obviously not alone. Many people were moved to raise their concerns with Ofcom, with over 2,300 complaints made over the weekend. It’s no surprise to me that so many people felt so strongly. As pharmacists we are committed to supporting people to live healthy lives, to advise and treat many of the illnesses and conditions that they face. What did surprise me though was how out of touch and misinformed the guests on the show were about what pharmacists actually do.
For some, a big part of the role may be dispensing prescriptions and other medicines, but there is so much more to our jobs. One of the privileges of my position is that I see first-hand that pharmacists are going the extra mile every day. Pharmacists make sure that people – whether they are suffering from a long-term condition, fighting a one-off illness or perfectly healthy – are receiving the best quality of care and medical information possible.
There is strong evidence for our role in helping people to stop smoking and we are well equipped to advise about alcohol use and weight management in a sensitive and discreet way. We can help people stay healthy, avoid having to visit their GP and stay out of hospital, we support the earlier detection of long-term conditions, and we provide easy access to expert advice on medicines. We work in the community, hospitals, GP surgeries, care homes, prisons and lots of other sectors. And I could go on….
RPS has taken immediate action to counter the comments made last Friday and you can be assured that we will continue to champion the role of pharmacists, challenging misconceptions and promoting the great work that you do day in and day out.
But we can’t do this without you. We need you to tell us your stories, what you do every day, so we can shine a light on the profession’s achievements. Get in touch on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and share your stories using #WeArePharmacy.
Together, we are pharmacy.