Independent community pharmacy must embrace new opportunities if it is to survive the challenges it faces, says The Pharmacist’s deputy editor Beth Kennedy.

For the past few months at The Pharmacist HQ, while we on the editorial team have been busy bringing you all the latest pharmacy news and views, our colleagues over at our not-to-be-missed sister event, Pharmacy Forward, have been working hard to make the big day a reality this summer. Having examined the agenda, I’d heartily recommend attending.

Yes, yes, I know. There are already tons of pharmacy events. So why do I think you should come to this one? Well, for starters, we at The Pharmacist and Pharmacy Forward pride ourselves on being the voice of independent community pharmacy, and we recognise the need to focus on the particular challenges you face.

To say that it’s been a time of change for independents would be something of an understatement. In the past two years alone, we’ve seen three different pharmacy ministers, a nationally commissioned flu service in England, millions of pounds worth of cuts to English pharmacy funding and an unprecedented (and – at time of writing – undecided) legal challenge to the Government’s funding cuts to the sector.

It’s only natural that all this change has been unsettling for pharmacists to say the least. Faced with such a multitude of challenges, it can feel comforting to stick with old ways of working – the familiarity of old routines a soothing force in a time of chaos.

But it seems clear, to me at least, that rather than burying its head in the sand and carrying on as before, the sector is going to have to adapt if it is to survive in this scary new world.

Community pharmacy needs to prove now more than ever that it’s willing not only to meet, but to embrace the additional pressure that will be heaped on it as a result of an ageing population and an ailing NHS. And if the Government’s cuts to funding go ahead as planned, it will have to deliver this with an ever-dwindling pot of resources.

So what’s the solution? I’m sorry to say that I can’t think of any silver bullets to solve all of pharmacy’s woes all in one go. But I do feel confident that in order to rise to the enormous challenges placed before it, the sector needs to come together to brainstorm ideas for change, share examples of best practice and celebrate all the fantastic work that goes on in pharmacies up and down the country every day.

With a jam-packed agenda covering everything from how to meet all the Quality Payments Scheme criteria, how to communicate with external stakeholders and how to improve your skills as a manager, the Pharmacy Forward event – which is being held in London on 2 July – promises to offer you all the tools you need to weather the trials of the next few months and, crucially, to do your bit in moving the profession forward.

For sponsorship or exhibition opportunities at the event, please contact Jamie Driver on 020 7214 0620 or email [email protected]