Community pharmacy is innovative and resourceful, Lord Howe tells 2012 Pharmacy Business Awards.
Community pharmacists were the toast of the Pharmacy Business Awards during an unforgettable night of celebration at the Park Plaza Hotel in London, an event in which the government also provided those unsung healthcare professionals with a timely reminder of their value to a modern NHS.
The 12th Pharmacy Business Awards, organised by the Asian Media and Marketing Group, attracted almost 1,000 guests and some of the sector's most powerful figures, including Vijay Patel, chairman of Waymade Healthcare, Gul Root, principle pharmaceutical office at the Department of Health and Royal Pharmaceutical Society president Martin Astbury. Other figures to attend included the Labour MP Valerie Vaz andLord Howe, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Quality at the Department of Health who appeared as chief guest.
Lord Howe paid tribute to the work of community pharmacists across the country, suggesting they are thriving under schemes such as the New Medicine Service and targeted MURs and proving themselves as surpreme healthcare clinicians.
"To the millions of people who use your services every day, who rely on you for their medicines, who seek your advice on the best treatment for their minor illnesses and injuries, and for all those that you are helping to stop smoking, lose weight or lead a healthier lifestyle - to them, you deserve a no less fulsome measure of public recognition," he said.
"And alongside excellence, there is innovation. Innovation is a powerful tool that can help you in your fundamental role of optimising the use of medicines so that we can get the best value and the best outcomes for patients from the significant investment that the NHS makes in those medicines.
"I see this in the way you have taken up the New Medicine Service. It is now just over a year since pharmacists up and down the country started to help patients to get the most from their newly prescribed medicines through the New Medicine Service."
"All the reports that I have had say that the Service has proved popular with patients and pharmacists alike. Patients like it and pharmacists have found it professionally rewarding."
Lord Howe went on to pay tribute to the innovation community pharmacy has continuously produced, encapsulated in the Heathy Living Pharmacy initiative.
"Healthy Living Pharmacies are another example of the innovative spirit that can be found in community pharmacy, as the number of accredited Healthy Living Pharmacies continues to rise," he said. "It is heartening that there is a noticeable take up by the independent sector and in areas of significant deprivation and population diversity.
"I am looking forward to the outcomes of the Healthy Living Pharmacy pathfinder evaluation to see if the results seen in Portsmouth have been replicated in other areas of the country with a different population make-up.
"I am hopeful that we will see some positive outcomes that will be incredibly useful in informing the Healthy Living Pharmacy task group of the Pharmacy and Public Health Forum as it takes the lead for accelerating the roll out of the Healthy Living Pharmacy concept across the country."
Shailesh Solank, the executive editor of Pharmacy Business, challenged Clinical Commissionig Groups to "operate with complete transparency" and give pharmacy an opportunity to do what it does best - provide top class healthcare for the public.
"Commissioning Groups must operate with complete transparency and avoid any notion of conflict of interest," he said. "The commissioning process should be open and safeguard the interests of all health professionals."
Solanki added, however, that pharmacy continues to feel the pain of inadequate funding as it strives to establish a bigger role within the new NHS.
"In the midst of the transition of commissioning powers from PCTs to CCGs pharmacy is again hurting. Many PCTs have simply stopped commissioning services and the inertia is depriving pharmacy of much needed income.
"The case for pharmacy to play a bigger role in primary care has been made by all stakeholders in the profession. And it remains as compelling as ever. Our strength comes from the dispensing services we provide. It's the dispensing which gives pharmacy the opportunity to provide clinical and enhanced services."
Such powerful soundbites took the attention and made it easy to forget that the evening's purpose was to celebrate the achievements of community pharmacy. Broadway Pharmacy in Preston took the top prize, the 2012 Pharmacy Business of the Year Award sponsored by Teva, for what was considered by the judges as an excellent all-round pharmacy providing a range of services.
"We're so happy, it is amazing to have won this award," enthused the pharmacy's manager Michael Ball. "We work very hard and I think we deserve this award." When asked about the future of pharmacy, he replied: "It's a very challenging future but we are all so important to the NHS."
The night was awash with accolades. The Pharmacy Business Community Award went to Umakant Patel of Dunns Pharmacy, the Pharmacy Business Team of the Year Award was won by Day Lewis Pharmacy in Oakham while the Pharmacy Business Entrepreneur of the Year Award went to Raj Rohilla, who runs Midhurst Pharmacy.
The awards kept on coming. The Pharmacy Business Patient Services Award went to J N Murray Limited, Sameena Ashraf claimed the Pharmacy Business Pre-Reg Pharmacist of the Year award, the Pharmacy Business Leader of the Year was Graham Phillips of Manor Pharmacy Group, the Pharmacy Business Natural Healthcare Pharmacy of the Year Award went to Maple Leaf Pharmacy, the Pharmacy Business Prescriber of the Year Award was won by Stephen Newbury of Newbury Pharmacy, while Chave & Jackson took the Pharmacy Business Health and Beauty Retailer of the Year Award.
Jay Badenhorst at Whitworth's Chemists took the Pharmacy Business Innovation Award, the Pharmacy Business Pharmacy Assistant Award went to Kim Barry at Pearl Chemist, Cordeve Limited won the Pharmacy Business Pharmacy Chain of the Year Award, while the Pharmacy Business Enterprise Award went to Nick Kaye's Pharmacy in Newquay.
Pfizer were named Branded Manufacturer of the Year, Teva won the Generic Manufacturer of the Year award and Auden Mckenzie won the Pharmacy Business Innovation in Generics award, while Nicorette was OTC Brand of the Year. The Editor's Award was won by David Mitchell, head of pharmacy at Johnson & Johnson Ltd/McNeil Products Ltd.