Leaders of national pharmacy organisations outline what their hopes and aspirations for community pharmacy are in the next 12 months as the ‘festival of lights’ heralds a new beginning…

Optimistic about year ahead: Simon Dukes

Happy Diwali to all those who celebrate and thank you to Pharmacy Business for this opportunity to reflect on an extraordinary year for community pharmacy.

Simon Dukes

This time last year no one could have predicted what our daily lives would now look like. Throughout the pandemic, patients and local communities have turned to pharmacy teams for advice and reassurance.

This speaks volumes about the value of the sector, but it has come at a price, as many pharmacy contractors now tell me of a deepening sense of anxiety due to gruelling work schedules and the abuse that they suffer from members of the public who are angry and frightened.

It has been incredibly challenging, but we can be proud that we have once again shown how pharmacy teams work through very difficult circumstances, going above and beyond to help their patients and maintaining vital services in an international crisis.

And I hope there will be positives in the year ahead. I have been particularly encouraged by the chief pharmaceutical officer of England’s announcement of the rollout of GP referrals into the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service and a new training pathway for independent prescribing. I hope these will bring us closer to the expansion of clinical service delivery we have all been striving for.

And of course at PSNC we will be continuing to make sure that everyone in the NHS and government understands the critical role you are all playing in supporting the public’s health and seeking fair funding for all of the critical work that you do.

Simon Dukes is CEO of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee.


Time for reflection: Mark Lyonette

Because it marks the start of a new year, Diwali is an excellent opportunity to reflect on change and renewal. The coronavirus pandemic has shown us all how quickly and profoundly change can come upon us. During Diwali, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and many others will be contemplating other changes that might, in the end, be even more profound in their lives.

Mark Lyonette

Whilst I am not a member of those faith communities, I too will be thinking about what I myself can change in my life at work, home and in wider society, to serve and care.

The lighting of lamps during Diwali symbolises the victory of good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. Pharmacists, alongside many others working in healthcare, have truly been a light, during the darkness of this pandemic.

The NPA is privileged to represent and support many members in the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Jain communities, who are working tirelessly across the UK.

On this very special occasion, I wish all my colleagues and friends celebrating Diwali – and all Pharmacy Business readers – the very best to you, your families, the people you work with and the patients you serve. Happy Diwali! Mark Lyonette is CEO of the National Pharmacy Association.

Mark Lyonette is CEO of the National Pharmacy Association.


Shining a new light of hope: Leyla Hannbeck

I first learned about Diwali when I moved to England from Sweden in 2004. I remember my first year working in community pharmacy in the North East and during Diwali colleagues were so enthusiastically telling me about his unique festival and how it is celebrated across the world but primarily by followers of the Hindu, Sikh, and Jain faiths. And of course, I thoroughly enjoyed those lovely Diwali sweets, ‘Barfi’ in particular, that the team made me familiar with.

Leyla Hannbeck (Photo: ©Edward Lloyd/Alpha Press)

I sincerely hope that this year of all years Diwali celebrations can shine a new light of hope and optimism to what has been years of hardship for our profession. We still have a journey ahead of us to ensure the decision makers see the obvious value that our sector brings to healthcare provision. I am confident now more than ever that we will get there, and I can assure everyone that AIMp will continue lobbying hard and working tirelessly to highlight the value this sector and our profession brings to the NHS.

Population health and the prevention of ill-health must all become the natural domains of community pharmacy. AIMp equally recognises how training with transferable skill sets must become an essential prerequisite if we are to deploy services urgently and ubiquitously.

A further key challenges facing our sector is not so much innovation or the capability of pharmacy teams to deliver. It is more the limitations imposed by cash flow that is crippling the possibilities. Cash is the oxygen, the lifeblood which sustains any business. Sufficient funding must be the precursor to realising our aspirations.

My final wish from the light of Diwali is for those in the position of power to share my belief and passion for our profession. Pharmacy teams operating to the limits of their potential – accessible and integrated in a truly effective way – I hope, becomes a reality for all of us.

No doubt Covid will impact the traditions of family gatherings, but I sincerely hope you enjoy the festival, the celebrations surrounding it and the spirit of the light. I wish you a memorable Diwali!

Leyla Hannbeck is CEO of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies.


Strength comes from adversity: Paul Bennett

This year has been one of the most challenging times in our history. So many difficult circumstances faced by so many communities across the UK and around the world have had to be confronted following the rise of the pandemic.

Paul Bennett

The personal freedoms we have enjoyed in more normal times, taken for granted in previous years, now feel like a distant memory. Tragically, for many people, recent events have seen the sad loss of loved ones and amongst those have been a significant number of dedicated individuals who selflessly have given their lives in the care of others, including pharmacists and their team members.

At times of adversity such as this, I strongly believe good people are inspired to step forward. Pharmacists and their teams working across the profession have done just that. Pharmacies have remained open when many healthcare practices and businesses have had to close, providing access to medicines and health advice and support.

At the very heart of their communities, pharmacies have shown they are essential for the health of the nation and that is what gives me optimism for the future of our profession and for the future on the ‘other side’ of Covid.

We all need to play our part in making sure people know what they have to do to stay safe. Imparting knowledge about how to avoid this terrible virus (maintaining social distancing, washing of hands and avoiding touching your face), strike me as being entirely consistent with the notion of defeating ignorance.

Diwali is the perfect time to celebrate the power of knowledge and to look towards a brighter, more prosperous future. Shubh Deepavali!

Paul Bennett is CEO at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

We need to be more agile, innovative in the New Year: Malcolm Harrison

Happy Diwali! It is safe to say that 2020 has been a challenging year in both a professional and a personal capacity for us all, so I know we are all looking forward to welcoming a new year and the opportunity to celebrate.

Malcolm Harrison

That said, with hard work and great resilience, community pharmacy has achieved so much over the past six months that has been invaluable to the health of our customers and patients, and to the wider NHS.

Unfortunately, it is quite clear that we are not out of the woods yet, with the second wave of the virus and the additional challenges of winter pressures and Brexit still to come. However, I know that community pharmacy will continue to do whatever it takes to keep the lights on and doors open for its patients.

In the year ahead we know that the PCN model will continue to pick up pace. We will need to be agile and innovative to work effectively with these new NHS structures. Similarly, we know that there are new national services for the sector to support as we see the continued roll out of the five-year Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework.

There are also changes already in play looking at workforce development programmes and the rebooted foundation year, so there is plenty for us all to face into over the next six to 12 months!

Over this time, and as ever, the CCA will continue to support LPCs as they implement changes at a local level for the benefit of all contractors across the country, and we will continue to work alongside the other pharmacy representative bodies and stakeholders to secure the future of the sector together.

Malcolm Harrison is CEO at the Company Chemists’ Association.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here