You do not have to be a rocket scientist to realise and know that as a profession, pharmacy is very much at a crossroad. From previous posts, both here and in other blogs, it is clear that we face challenges from all four corners. Many of our challenges have been there for a very long time, and have, for one reason or other, become part of our daily lives rather than something that needs to be resolved. Probably the best known would be the inability of the professions of pharmacy and medicine to work together. Also, less well-known outside the profession’s own circles, is the fact that as a profession we stand alone when it comes to criminal prosecution. The latter being an issue that exemplifies the professions impotence to stand up for itself.
Then there are challenges that arise from time to time that tests the mettle of the profession. Issues such as the demise of the RPSGB and the inception of the GPhC, but that is a matter for a different blog. Suffice it to say that some of these challenges are met head on and overcome, but there are also those that more often than not just become another ‘nail in our coffin’.
Many are the reasons why we excel in our failings but after having pondered for some time, I have come to the conclusion that there is little if any cohesion within the profession. In plain English – there is no teamwork at the macro level. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where the problem lies. Someone once said that as a profession we seek a purpose, which was echoed elsewhere by another that said, as a profession we seek respect. But sadly, the profession does not have a head. Instead we have many, much like a kerberos that can do nothing but be a guard dog. But this proud profession can not just stay a guard dog, for times change and if we are to survive, we need to change with it. We need to become hunters.
Enough wishful thinking. Reality bites, and today I would like to lodge a vote of no confidence in one of the most important ‘heads’ that the profession has. I present to you the PSNC – a Mount Rushmore of incompetence. Harsh words you say – indeed, I would agree with you, but for once these TWATS fully deserve this vaulted accolade. Their handling, past and present, of the prescription pricing accuracy debacle is nothing other than totally shambolic. They have been outmaneuvered at every turn by either the Pricing Authority or the DoH, and have in the process let down the very people that they represent.
So why am I so critical. Firstly there is the ‘excuse’ they make about the Department introducing the new pricing system without even having consulted them. The question that begs answering is why did they not confront the Department on this issue? How could the DoH have slipped something as big as the CIP system past the PSNC? I will tell you, it is because they were fast asleep on the watch! Strike one!
Secondly, there is the silence surrounding the audit the PSNC had/are conducting into the accuracy of CIP. They are being so tight-lipped about their findings that not even the defunct News of the World would have been able to penetrate their guard. And being an onlooker from afar I have to admit that they might have reasons for their silence, whatever they may be. But ladies and gentlemen, there is a serious side to this all. Due to these pricing discrepancies pharmacies are being brought to the brink of insolvency. There are people being made redundant, loosing their livelyhood. More having to be done by fewer staff, and ultimately patient’s safety being presented on the sacrificial altars of greed. Strike two.
Sue Sharp says that the PSNC will continue to fight for improved accuracy. Hollow words, Madam, you should have sounded the alarm long ago. You have lulled us into a false sence of security, only to expose our flanks. Every staff member that has been or are being laid off, every staff member that suffers from depression or stress, every pharmacy that goes belly up, and every patient that suffers from a mistake made under these conditions, you are partly to blame for. Together with the greedy multiples and the DoH, the PSNC have contributed to the weakening of our profession!
Now truth be told, I do not know whether this was done through ignorance or by design, and I care little. What does matter to me is that we act, and act now. The time for pussy footing is over. PSNC, I call you to fulfill your mission. Go boldly where no pharmacist has been before. Pave the way for a future where we can safely ply our trade with confidence and pride. A future where our patients trust us and our fellow professions respect us.
As for the rest of us, we should stop being the idiots that we are, we should stand together, and stand tall, for there is none that can burnish a pestle like we can!