The Pharmacist Cooperative categorically disagrees with the approach taken by a segment on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ programme on Friday 17th January 2020 in which journalists, with no healthcare knowledge or background, offered their opinions on the role of pharmacists to provide healthy living advice to the general public.

The program failed to offer a balanced view as there wasn’t a pharmacist present to frankly and honestly challenge the ignorant assumptions made by the journalists on the show. This was both reckless and irresponsible.  The interview, in which journalists not only incorrectly referred to pharmacists as ‘chemists’, but also labelled them as ‘pretend doctors’ and shopkeepers was a tirade of insults and showed blatant disregard for these hard-working healthcare professionals. This level of negligent journalism should be met with the harshest criticism possible and a complaint to Ofcom.

Not only was this a gross attack on the profession of pharmacists, but also serves to discourage patients to seek advice from local pharmacists. In the current state of circumstances where patients are waiting weeks for a GP appointment, often the only available (appointment – free) service is the one offered by Pharmacists.

Pharmacists are highly trained and skilled professionals who undergo five years of education & training, and are able to manage a wide variety of health complaints as well as being actively involved in preventative treatments such as flu vaccinations, despite the assumption that they are ‘pretend doctors’ or ‘shopkeepers’.   Pharmacists form a significant part of the NHS workforce and are medicines experts.  To assume pharmacists have no right to discuss health-related needs without prompt from the patient is both foolish and wrong. As responsible healthcare professionals, it is incumbent upon every pharmacist to make the patient their first and primary concern – this includes situations where the patient may not readily ask for help or advice.

This level of degradation of the pharmacy profession by ill-informed and ignorant journalists only serves to make the ongoing NHS crisis worse and endanger the survival of general practice and the wider NHS.

We invite you all to visit your local pharmacist who is easily accessible, usually open for longer hours than your general practice surgery (even during weekends), offer FREE healthcare advice as well as offering a private consultation area, and see what pharmacists really do – you will see they offer more than just ‘sticking labels on boxes’.  For anyone who is still sceptical about the role of pharmacists, please click on the link below – the website is used to help young adults make informed decisions about their career options. It clearly outlines the roles and responsibilities of pharmacists in your local pharmacy.

https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/community-pharmacist

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