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Day Lewis announces its commitment to the new Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Day Lewis, the UK’s largest independent pharmacy group, has today announced that they will for the first time pay the membership fee for their employee pharmacists, when the renewal for new Royal Pharmaceutical Society takes place at the end of February 2011.  This is a significant step for Day Lewis and signifies their support for the Society in its first 12 months as an independent professional body.

Day Lewis said that membership of the Society is important to encourage professionalism among its pharmacists and to ensure that they have access to the most up to date pharmacy information and guidance materials.  They recognize that their pharmacies need skilled, supported and motivated professionals to maintain Day Lewis’ commitment to helping people in the community to stay healthy and to feel better. Competitive advantage depends increasingly on quality services – and patients’ trust in the professionals delivering them and that trust helps to build customer loyalty.

Kirit Patel, CEO at Day Lewis Pharmacy told PRimage MD, Judy Viitanen:

“I passionately believe that it is important for pharmacists who want to see a ‘leading from the front’ organisation that they become part of the new professional body. I am clear about the benefits of joining the professional leadership body. I hope that other pharmacists will feel the same – and be aware of its value in enhancing their professional kudos and reputation.

I am a great believer that only through one unifying, strong voice will pharmacy ever be recognised and excel. For many years I have long held the opinion that we needed a robust, influential, supportive and unifying professional body that provided comprehensive leadership, and was recognised by its membership and external stakeholders as a leader and visionary in pharmacy affairs. am proud to join the new professional body – and I am confident that it will respect members’ views and aspirations, and support them professionally and educationally.”

Helen Gordon, Society Chief Executive said: “Pharmacists who work for Day Lewis will benefit from Society support and development.  This will ensure they have the knowledge and skills to provide the level of quality needed to encourage patient trust in pharmacy services. Day Lewis have shown a commitment to the profession by supporting pharmacist employees in this way and it is a great endorsement of how being a member of the Society is a fundamental part of a pharmacist’s professional identity.”

The 2011 membership year will start on 1 March.

NHS Bill: Sound bites round-up

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

PRimage has been busy assessing reactions from various healthcare bodies to the NHS Bill, announced this afternoon … Lansley has had to contend with a huge amount of criticism of his NHS reforms, much of it dramatically expressed, by many of they key organisations representing doctors and other NHS organisations. Public supporters have been hard to find amongst the host of warnings and reservations! Judy Viitanen especially enjoyed the Titanic analogy used by Unison, who said that the Health Bill is a ‘disaster’ of Titanic proportions’ and which threatens to sink our NHS”

Here’s a listing of top line sound bites …
RCGP
‘makes sense’ for health professionals to be involved in the planning of services, but the proposals risk ‘destabilising the NHS and causing long-term harm to patient outcomes’

‘we must guard against fragmentation and unnecessary duplication within a health service that is run by a wide array of competing public, private and voluntary sector providers, that delivers less choice and fewer services, reduces integration between primary and secondary care and increases bureaucratic costs’.

Patient choices as outlined in the Bill ‘run a risk of destabilising the NHS and causing long-term harm to patient outcomes’. The RCGP has also yet to receive sufficient evidence to be reassured the plans would prevent this from happening.

BMA
The BMA said ploughing ahead with the reforms at the speed proposed was a ‘massive gamble’.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of council at the BMA, said: ‘The BMA supports greater involvement of clinicians in planning and shaping NHS services, but the benefits that clinician-led commissioning can bring are threatened by other parts of the Bill.’

‘Forcing commissioners of care to tender contracts to any willing provider, including NHS providers, voluntary sector organisations and commercial companies, could destabilise local health economies and fragment care for patients.

‘Adding price competition into the mix could also allow large commercial companies to enter the NHS market and chase the most profitable contracts, using their size to undercut on price, which could ultimately damage local services.’

Royal College of Physicians
Supports the shift towards putting clinicians and patients in the driving seat but is concerned the Bill doesn’t require specialists to be at the heart of commissioning.
‘The scale and pace of change – and the challenge of unprecedented efficiency savings – should not be underestimated. Neither should the risks if we get this wrong.’

Unison
The public sector union, called the Health Bill a ‘disaster’ of Titanic proportions’. Karen Jennings, head of health at Unison, said: ‘This Titanic health bill threatens to sink our NHS. The only survivors will be the private health companies that are circling like sharks, waiting to move in and make a killing.

‘Lansley has turned his back on the warnings from across the medical establishment that these changes are unnecessary, undemocratic and unlikely to deliver improvements in patient care. We need a U-turn from the Government.’

Unite
Bill is ‘a charter for private profit at the expense of patients care’.
‘It is clear that one of the biggest influences on Tory ideology regarding health policy has been the massive and insidious lobbying by the  private healthcare companies, which have opened their cheque books for David Cameron big-time.’
‘The GP consortia, the supposed vanguard of this so-called reform programme, will be juggling financial decisions with the help of the private healthcare companies they will buy-in, versus the needs of their patients – this is a stark conflict of interest. Patients should always come first.’

The Nuffield Trust
Reforms are ‘broadly in the right direction’ but they will have to be judged on the extent to which they deliver – with minimum disruption – sustained improvements to patient care during a period of major financial challenge for the NHS.

‘The NHS is at a fork in the road. It embarks on this period of reform with much strength but the pressures it faces over the next four years will continue to rise. ‘Given the reforms over the past 20 years the Government’s decision to devolve more responsibility to the front line is logical. However, this approach carries significant risks in today’s financial climate and needs to be managed very carefully.’

General Healthcare Group
The UK’s largest private hospital group, welcomed the proposed reforms and said it was ‘only right’ the NHS, private and third sector providers worked together in austere times.
‘In our view, the challenge for instituting these reforms will be about maintaining the pace of change and how instability during the period of transition is minimised.’

The King’s Fund
The Bill signals the biggest shake-up of the NHS since its inception
‘But, while the government’s reforms have the potential to improve the NHS, they will be implemented against the backdrop of the biggest financial challenge in its history. ‘Finding the £20bn in efficiency savings needed to maintain services must be the overriding priority, so the very real risk that the speed and scale of the reforms could destabilise the NHS and undermine care must be actively managed.’

NHS Confederation
Urged MPs to ‘forensically analyse’ the Health Bill.

‘We support the objectives behind this legislation but there are huge risks and major uncertainties associated with it. ‘The system is already geared up for change and we can not afford for these reforms to fail – the public will not forgive us. The focus in parliament has to be on making this work on behalf of patients.’

CBI
‘We support the Government’s plans to modernise the NHS, because this will lead to better services for patients, and ensure taxpayers’ money is spent wisely. ‘Allowing the best provider to deliver healthcare services, whether they are a private company or a charity, will spur innovation and choice. But bidders must be able to compete for contracts on a level playing field.’

Can GP-consortia learn from US experience?

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

The UK influential and independent health think-tank, The Nuffield Trust, certainly thinks so – and PRimage finds their new report on the US experience and insights from American medical organisations makes for fascinating reading: http://www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/publications/

The report sets out the lessons that the nascent GP consortia in England will need to learn from the experience of groups of doctors in some parts of America, which have been commissioning healthcare for patients, with a budget to match, for up to 20 years. It suggests that these new groupings of family doctors will need excellent leadership, management and IT support if they are to work well, and that there are ‘clear risks of introducing GP commissioning in England when the Government has placed such a strong emphasis on reducing management costs.’

NHS Bill – A Healthy Prescription?: PRimage comment

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

As PRimage see it there are pros and cons for this radical overhaul of the NHS. It’s a huge risk – and yes, of course it will bring massive organisational upheaval – but we should remember that the Govt needs to find 4% NHS efficiency savings a year for 4 years to keep up with rising demand!

The new policies will mean ministers essentially giving up day to day management of the service – opting instead to set annual priorities and measures of improved health outcomes for a national commissioning board. This board will performance-manage consortia of GPs to whom it will have to hand well over half the English NMS’s £100bn budget, with which to commission care locally. The worry is that this commissioning board will simply be a substitute DoH – but without a public health remit.

PRimage MD, Judy Viitanen, is a former District Councillor – and strong supporter of localism – so she’sencouraged by the policy to transfer much of public health to local authorities, who in turn will get strengthened scrutiny powers over GPs’ plans. And as a healthcare communicator and lobbyist, she is hoping that increased NHS investment in clinical care, and a focus on proactively improving health outcomes will help the treatment of cancer and other serious conditions – and ultimately bring swifter and better care closer to patients.

Ask Your Pharmacist! says PRimage

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

With client’s in the community pharmacy sector, Judy Viitanen was pleased to see this great feature profile on the valuable role that pharmacist’s play in keeping the nation healthy!

Good feature profile on the role and value of community pharmacists: http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/healthy-living/wellbeing/role-of-pharmacists.htm

“12 months to save the NHS” – PRimage comment

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Public services reforms is the headline media story today – as David Cameron defends NHS reform plans, saying: ‘doing nothing will end in tears’ – http://bit.ly/e6T5VU
The key is for Education Secretary Michael Gove and Health Secretary Andrew Lansley to win over their sternest critics and also win the hearts and minds of the public that these radical changes are what’s needed – and will get results. Everyone in this country faces difficult times ahead – and it’s crucial that that the Government  gets these issues right! …

The Government’s new health policies are aimed at improving NHS performance, reducing bureaucracy and improving the outcomes of treatment for patients. As a specialist healthcare communications consultancy, PRimage totally agree with this – but Judy Viitanen shares some of the concerns voiced by healthcare professionals that the radical shakeup of the NHS could lead to a two-tier health service.

This country certainly needs to tackle its health and social inequalities – and in our opinion the Dept of Health must start to focus on dealing with health inequalities that those members of the community who either aren’t registered with a GP, or see no value in accessing healthcare, continue to suffer. So in this era of NHS reforms it is critical that reducing inequalities becomes a key focus for frontline health providers: not just GPs, but also community pharmacists.

Ask Your Pharmacist if you want to know more about medicines & self care

Friday, November 5th, 2010

As a specialist healthcare communications consultancy, PRimage is spreading the word on the range of services and skills available at your local pharmacy to help you and your family stay fit and healthy – and all available without an appointment!  You can find out more from pharmacies all round the country because from 8th November it’s ‘Ask Your Pharmacist Week’.  The week is organised by the National Pharmacy Association, who want to encourage more people to make better use of pharmacy’s accessability and skills as a frontline source of healthcare expertise, service and advice.

New research shows that public awareness of the services available from pharmacies lags behind reality. In an NPA survey of 1,123 UK adults carried out between 22 and 27 October 2010, most people thought that less than a third of community pharmacies have consultation areas, whereas a substantial majority have them. The survey also showed that half of respondents thought that community pharmacies do not offer screening for sexually transmitted infections, whereas around 6,000 pharmacies across the UK now offer chlamydia screening.

Pharmacy2U lobby on internet pharmacy logo guidelines & verification

Friday, November 5th, 2010

PRimage client, Pharmacy2U, is the UK’s leading dedicated internet and mail order pharmacy operation, and advocates that internet pharmacy, properly and professionally regulated and strictly monitored, provides a valuable service and additional choice for consumers. Since its launch in 1999, the company’s robust checks and balances business processes and powerful audit systems have been a benchmark example of best practice in e-pharmacy.

Pharmacy2U Managing Director, Daniel Lee, says that during the past year he has noted,  with increasing concern, that the current internet pharmacy logo is being used by pharmacies which do not adhere to the current Code of Ethics and the proposed GPhC Council Standards for pharmacy owners and superintendent pharmacists of retail pharmacy business services. This is a matter of great professional and commercial concern for Pharmacy2U, and to highlight the problem and validate their concerns, the company have conducted an audit and review of the websites of 100 online pharmacies using the Internet Pharmacy Logo.

The audit research findings are very disturbing and reinforce this growing problem – revealing that a number of pharmacies displaying the internet pharmacy logo unfortunately have not fulfilled even the simplest requirements of the standard: such as clearly displaying the name of the owner of the business, or providing information on how to confirm the registration status of the pharmacy or pharmacist.

Of the 100 pharmacies reviewed in the audit sample:
•    23% were not conforming
•    14% were not showing the name of the business
•    16% did not state the superintendent pharmacist
•    16% were not displaying information on how to confirm status
•    16% were not displaying complaints information
•    13% were contravening NHS brand guidelines

Mr Lee comments: “We believe strongly that the verification process for the internet pharmacy logo needs to be robustly monitored and adhered to.  It is vital that the new GPhC, DH, policy makers and other stakeholders recognise this – and Pharmacy2U are committed to campaigning to achieve this. The internet pharmacy logo could be a fantastic tool to enable consumers to find a trusted source of internet pharmacy – but its success and validity can only be based on a tightly controlled process for the distribution of the logo and the monitoring of its use”

“Over the past decade internet and mail order pharmacy has been positively recognised within many Department of Health policy documents – and has been acknowledged as fulfilling the NHS ethos of meeting the needs of patients, with ease of access, convenience and choice. Our research findings show that the credibility and integrity of Internet pharmacy is being put at risk – which is damaging for consumers and for the confidence that the public and opinion holders have in online pharmacy.”

Pharmacy2U recommend that the following five requirements are needed to increase the robustness of the verification process for the internet pharmacy logo, ensuring:
•    Patients privacy is protected
•    Adherence to a recognized and agreed standard of practice
•    Conformation to other standards such as Trading standards, Distance Selling Directives, ISO90071, etc
•    On site inspection mandatory with appropriate costs charged to the registering pharmacy
•    Possibility of a new third party organisation to ensure that applicants meet the initial and ongoing requirements for registration
These recommendations will be part of the Pharmacy2U campaigning message to the GPhC and other key opinion formers and policy makers.

Pharmacy2U is further worried about the many illegal internet pharmacies operating in the UK. Mr Lee has zero tolerance of illegal and non conforming internet pharmacies – and the company continually report these rogue websites to the MHRA. Unfortunately, according to Mr Lee, there is little the MRHA can do for rogue websites operating outside of the UK.

The company is not alone in their concerns on this issue. In September Google announced its intention to file lawsuits against online rogue pharmacies that it believes have deliberately broken its advertising rules.

Personalised Healthcare

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

This morning Judy Viitanen checked out an interesting new report from Nuffield Council on Bioethics, ‘Personalised Healthcare’ – Medical profiling and online medicine: the ethics of  ‘personalised healthcare’ in a consumer age.

This report weighs up the benefits and harms, along with the ethical values that come into play.  These developments include direct-to-consumer personal genetic profiling and body imaging, and websites that provide health advice, storage of health records and medicines for sale. PRimage is especially interested in Chapter 7 – which covers buying medicines online.

Check out the executive summary at:

http://www.nuffieldbioethics.org/sites/default/files/Personlised%20healthcare%20-%20Executive%20summary.pdf

Generic substitution of medicines will not be implemented

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

The Department of Health has announced that the Government has decided not to progress with plans for the generic substitution of medicines in primary care. Following a full public consultation the Government has published its response which outlines the reasons why proposals which would have allowed dispensers to replace branded drugs for generic versions when dispensing a prescription will now not be implemented in England.

The response to the consultation on proposals to implement generic substitution in primary care is available on line at:

http://www.dh.gov.uk/prod_consum_dh/groups/dh_digitalassets/@dh/@en/documents/digitalasset/dh_120432.pdf

Earl Howe, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Quality, commented:
“We know that there are valuable savings to be made from the use of generic medicines where it is clinically appropriate. However, we believe that national plans to enforce generic substitution in primary care are too prescriptive.

“We have listened to the concerns from the public, patients and other interested parties about legislative proposals to enable pharmacists to replace a branded medicine with a generic medicine. It is also not clear whether the proposals would have provided substantial benefit to the NHS, compared to the efforts of frontline staff to implement them. This is why we have decided not to progress with national implementation.

“We want patients to get the drugs their doctors recommend at the best price for the taxpayer. Patients should be reassured that we are looking at more appropriate ways of supporting the use of generic medicines and, in the long term, value-based pricing will help to ensure we pay a price for drugs which better reflects their value.”