Happy New Year! 2020 has been memorable for all the wrong reasons but it had its ups, as well as its downs.
This year for the first time, the Pharmacist Cooperative has teamed up with an international recruitment company, Medwing, to support our members who want to move away from community pharmacy where they're continuously being mistreated and onto more exciting jobs where their skills are appreciated and are remunerated fairly for their skill and knowledge.
We have been working tirelessly to support the NHS COVID vaccination programme in West Midlands with our partner, Medwing, and we have seen some impressive results already. Going forward we hope to continue with supporting more NHS trusts and work more closely with Medwing.
The Pharmacist Cooperative has been here to support pharmacists throughout the pandemic. We provided PPE to pharmacists at cost price when multimillion-pound companies with huge buying power decided they were going to look after their bottom line and threaten locums they would be sent home if they didn't bring their own PPE while at the same time selling PPE from their pharmacies at highly inflated prices.
We saw the same companies close pharmacies instead of paying locums a fair rate to keep these branches open. For some businesses, even pandemics are seen as an opportunity for profiteering. How can we forget a well known independent pharmacy chain taking advantage of the public by inflating the price of Calpol and selling it for £19.99. Unfortunately, our regulator decided an apology from the pharmacy chain was sufficient. Yet a single complaint involving a pharmacist regarding profiteering led to the Chief Executive of the GPhC issuing a statement tarnishing the name of all pharmacists.
Last year we saw many pharmacy chains squeeze and throw pharmacists under the bus while protecting their bottom line. They closed branches just to control locum rates, threatened and blacklisted locums for even daring to ask for reasonable locum rate. Some of the largest locum agencies supported their paymasters to trample all over locums and even threaten to report them to GPhC when they dared to ask for a fair rate. We even had superintendents come out in support of remote supervision. We were told the pandemic showed us why we need remote supervision. In fact, during the pandemic, there was a 70% drop in locum jobs due to at least 3000 retired pharmacists and technicians rejoining the register, CCG pharmacists volunteering to work for free and pro-reg pharmacists joining the job market. If anything the pandemic showed why we should not allow greedy corporations to have so much power and influence over the nations healthcare service. It showed the need for individual pharmacists to stand up to the greedy corporate healthcare companies that care only about profit. We need pharmacists to have more power and influence over the profession and a professional body with a backbone and leadership that puts the interest of pharmacists before that of deep-pocketed private corporations.
This year we also set up the national DPP service to support pharmacists who want to become independent prescribers. With community pharmacy becoming saturated, many pharmacists want to upskill and specialise but finding a DMP or DPP has been extremely challenging for many so we have developed a service to support the profession on a national level. We also partnered with ECG to provide vaccination training for almost 350 Pharmacists this year alone!
In 2021 we hope to support the Pharmacy profession even more and develop services that will further benefit our members and grassroots pharmacists working on the front line.
Happy New Year!