Health secretary Matt Hancock delivers a video message to the 20th Pharmacy Business Awards

Health secretary Matt Hancock has said community pharmacy is the ‘front door to the NHS’ and that as the secretary of state he is right behind the sector.

In a video message as chief guest at the virtually held 20th Pharmacy Business Awards on Thursday (Jan 21), Hancock said he was very grateful to the role community pharmacies play “in every corner” of the country.

“Especially in these challenging weeks ahead, I want to say thank you,” he said, adding: “as the secretary of state, I’m right behind you.”

Hancock praised community pharmacy teams for going above and beyond, to make sure that vital medicines got to those who needed them, and for working “incredibly hard to keep people safe.”

But he acknowledged: “We keep asking a lot of you: first, through the biggest flu vaccination program in history, and now with the critical role that you will play in the Covid-19 vaccines deployment plan.

“Already 200 community pharmacies are handling the vaccine, you’re an essential partner in this campaign, and also in the way that you can help reach all kinds of people, all different groups out into the community – encouraging people to take up this vital and life-saving vaccine and persuading them, reassuring them of that need.”

The health secretary reiterated that it’s always been clear to him that community pharmacy was always such a critical part of the NHS family.

“And now with this pandemic, I think it has now become clear to everyone,” he continued, stressing “you’re the front door to the NHS, you’re the part most embedded in our communities.”

‘Words of praise won’t pay bills’

Earlier, Shailesh Solanki, the executive editor of Pharmacy Business said community pharmacy was in urgent need of a funding model that would sustain and fully value the network.

He regretted “words of praise will not pay” the sector’s ever-rising bills. “The Government must act now and match its praise for the sector with funding to end this uncertainty. Only then can community pharmacy fulfil its true potential at the heart of our communities and as an integral part of our great NHS.”

Solanki said the Covid-19 pandemic visibly demonstrated the value of community pharmacy teams as the only accessible healthcare professionals and proved that “they really are the bedrock of our communities”.

“In this time of national crisis, community pharmacy stood tall with dignity and well-deserved pride,” he added.

However, he warned that the pandemic had changed the environment and landscape for most businesses, including healthcare, and that community pharmacy would need to change and adapt to new models of care.

“Pharmacy can no longer be reliant on procuring and dispensing medicines alone. The supply and sale of medicines must be wrapped up within a service which adds value to the NHS, the tax-payer and the patient experience,” he concluded.

Two manufacturers awarded

In a year of unprecedented changes and unparalleled challenges, the 20th Pharmacy Business Awards were held virtually on the evening of Thursday, January 21 – to recognise and pay tribute to the outstanding work of community pharmacists and their teams during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Two pharmaceutical manufacturers were awarded for helped community pharmacies over an incredibly difficult year. Pharmacy Business readers were asked to vote for the manufacturers who had best supported the independent pharmacy sector over the last year.

The first of these two awards went to GSK for being the chosen Pharmacy Business Branded Manufacturer of 2020, while Teva walked away with the Generic Manufacturer of the Year Award.

Prof Parr wins editor’s award

The Pharmacy Business Editor’s Award – bestowed upon an exceptional leader who has contributed profoundly to community pharmacy throughout a distinguished career – was this year presented to Professor Rose Marie Parr, former chief pharmaceutical officer for Scotland.

A passionate advocate of community pharmacy, Prof Parr started out as a hospital pharmacist before going into education, becoming a senior lecturer at Strathclyde University.

Since then, she has served as a distinguished public servant in pharmacy for over two decades and has been instrumental in not only creating a bold vision for pharmacy within primary care but outlining a clear pathway to achieving it.

A highly respected leader, Prof Parr has inspired a generation of pharmacists and their teams to deliver great pharmaceutical care.

Thirteen categories

The main Pharmacy Business Awards saw a total of thirteen categories of honours, including the Pharmacy Business of the Year, given away to celebrate excellence in community pharmacy, as follows:

Pharmacy Business Community Award for 2020 went to Harlow Town Pharmacy, Harlow, Essex.

Pharmacy Business Local Health Initiative of the Year Award was won by Kieran Eason, Easons Pharmacy, Wilnecote, Tamworth.

The winner of Pharmacy Technology Award was Amish Patel, Hodgson Pharmacy, Longfield, Kent.

Pharmacy Business Public Health Pharmacist Award was won by Graham Phillips of Manor Pharmacy.

Pharmacy Business Pre-Reg Pharmacist of the Year Award was won by to Yasmine Haq, Knights Pharmacy.

Pharmacy Business Pharmacy Team Award went to Euro Chemist Limited, Liverpool.

The winner of Natural Healthcare Pharmacy Award was Punil Shah, Flora Fountain Pharmacy, Uxbridge, Greater London.

Pharmacy Business Innovation Award went to Ahmeys Pharmacy, Oxford.

Pharmacy Business Pharmacy Assistant Award went to Heidi Norton, Bidford Pharmacy, Harborne, Birmingham.

Pharmacy Business GP-Primary Care Integration Award was won by Amit Pattni, Sonichem Pharmacy, Leicester.

The winner of Pharmacy Business Community Pharmacy Heroes Award was Rishi Bhatia, RB Healthcare, Aintree, Liverpool.

Pharmacy Business Enterprise Award went to Rebecca Myers, Day Lewis Pharmacy, Croydon.

Rikin Patel of Sharmans Pharmacy, Northwood, London won the Pharmacy Business of the Year Award 2020.

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