From Adam Dennett, Commercial Director
I am pleased to have seen more recently that pharmacists are finally starting to receive the recognition they deserve for their tireless work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sharing the hashtag #PharmacyHeroes, I saw that the Royal Family posted a message on its Twitter account, thanking pharmacists for “working tirelessly to keep people healthy and safe” and paying tribute to the profession’s commitment to supporting local communities despite the “huge pressure” of the coronavirus outbreak.
I know how tirelessly you have all worked. Often in the face of challenging patients and a lack of PPE. With GP doors closed, pharmacists have been on the front line supporting and reassuring many scared and worried individuals – a fact that, until recently, was overlooked by both politicians and the public at large. Having worked over Easter and the May Day Bank Holiday, you are tired and, in many cases, stretched to the limit. Here at Cegedim, we all know that; and I wanted to write a message to thank you all and reflect on some of the encouraging progress we have seen across the sector.
Extending Support and Improving Efficiency
Our whole team have been supporting our pharmacy customers since the very beginning of this outbreak – from extending service desk opening hours to 76 hours a week, to creating our free Learning Zone to help everyone working in pharmacy teams having to adjust to new or changed PMR systems. Full of bite sized videos, the platform is accessible anywhere, on any device, enabling pharmacists to self-skill from home or within the pharmacy and even on your mobile device.
Many of you have been gaining the benefits of the latest version of Pharmacy Manager, especially one-click access to the Summary Care Record, helping you to identify shielded patients, as well as accreditation for Real Time Exemption checking (RTEC). Customers have cited the benefits of time saving and making life easier and safer in the pharmacy. RTEC has also helped minimise contact with the patients who no longer need to complete a self- declaration on the back of the prescription, as well as making collection easier for patient representatives as it avoids lengthy conversations about exemptions.
Mobilising Pharmacy Support
Now, a growing numbers of companies and associations are starting to mobilise and champion the role of community pharmacy. AIMp, for example, has embarked upon a three phase campaign to “demonstrate the value of community pharmacy, and how we have gone over and beyond during this difficult period.” The three phase campaign is designed to highlight to the government the amazing value community pharmacy has delivered to the country during this crisis but also to bring to the attention of politicians the challenges that the community pharmacy network is facing.
Attitudes within the pharmacy community are also becoming more positive. Thirty-eight per cent of 745 community pharmacy professionals based in England said they were ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ confident in the government’s response to the COVID-19, according to the latest C+D survey.
When asked specifically about the business support measures implemented by the government in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, 38% of respondents said the measures were “good first steps, but not nearly enough”; while 12% said the government has “really stepped up when it comes to supporting businesses.
Restoration and Recovery Phase
In his recent video message, PSNC Chief Executive Simon Dukes confirmed that negotiations on additional funding for the sector are ongoing. As the DHSC and NHSE&I are now looking at the restoration and recovery phase, he says, “Even though community pharmacy doors have been open throughout, we need to start looking at the future and what opportunities there might be for us.” Adding that not only is funding central to the discussion but also the key role that community pharmacy can play in both COVID-19 antibody testing and for vaccinations that may emerge.
Continuing and Extending Support for our Pharmacy Heroes
This will be another time of transition. While so much has been achieved over the past couple of months, the next stage of managing the COVID-19 pandemic will create new challenges - not least in overcoming patient concerns, managing the new testing regime and improving patient communication regarding product and service availability.
At Cegedim, we remain committed to supporting our community pharmacy customers; we will continue to innovate and work with partners to deliver a range of new services and products. You can look forward to more exciting announcements over the coming months. We will be sure to keep all our customers updated should there be any changes, so please ensure you are registered for our customer communications here.
Pharmacy teams have been at the centre of the NHS’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic. From me and everyone at Cegedim – THANK YOU. We will continue to support you all on the frontline.
Adam Dennett, Commercial Director