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Archive for April, 2008

Hay Fever Help – Advice from your Day Lewis Pharmacist

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Do you suffer from hay fever? Has the recent warm weather triggered yur symptoms?  Are you confused about which type of remedy to take to relieve your symptoms? Clearly many people are according to the findings of a new survey which shows that at least five million of the 13 million hay fever sufferers in Britain are putting their health at risk by taking the wrong medicine. PRimage client, Day Lewis Plc, the UK’s largest independent pharmacy group, is concerned that nearly three-quarters of people who experience hay fever symptoms do not seek medical advice before taking medication. Their message and advice to hay fever sufferers is: “Pharmacists are experts on medicines and how they work, so do talk to your Day Lewis pharmacist about your symptoms, to ensure you get the most effective hay fever treatment that is right for you.”

To reinforce the importance of understanding how to deal with hay fever, and the benefits of asking your pharmacist for advice on effective remedies, Day Lewis has re- issued it’s popular ‘Hay fever Survival Guide’ – which provides essential healthcare advice and an expert low-down on hay fever treatments, plus practical self-help tips to beat the characteristic and distressing symptoms – sneezing, itchy eyes and ears, and streaming or stuffy nose.

Peter Glover, Day Lewis Superintendent Pharmacist advises: “When hay fever hits, don’t suffer in silence. There are a wide range of effective treatments available from your Day Lewis pharmacy, which can help you cope with the miseries of hay fever, by reducing your symptoms. Even severe hay fever symptoms can by greatly reduced by some of the most recently developed treatments. By using the modern treatments, available from your pharmacy – and following the advice and self-help tips in our hay fever survival guide, you can control – and even avoid symptoms – which means you can get on with your life. Our Day Lewis pharmacists are geared up for the hay fever season – and will be happy to spend time with you to answer any questions or concerns you may have about coping with hay fever – and to recommend a treatment that’s right for you. But different treatments and products suit different people – which is why it’s so important that you discuss your symptoms with the pharmacist. And remember to tell the pharmacist if you have an existing medical problem or if you are taking any other medication”.

Peter explains to PRimage : These treatments can be very effective, but only if you use them properly. Antihistamine tablets have a high success rate. But do make sure you take them as directed by your pharmacist, and read the instruction leaflet. Eye drops and nasal sprays can also ease the symptoms. Antihistamine nasal sprays may stop your nose running and nasal steroid sprays can clear your nose by reducing inflammation in the cells. A third kind of nasal spray uses a drug called sodium cromoglicate, which can prevent the symptoms from happening in the first place. Sometimes a combination of treatments can work well.”

Brown’s bad poll ratings continue – PRimage comment

Monday, April 14th, 2008

The start of a new week and things are not looking good for our PM, as he faces setbacks with poor poll ratings, which PRimage believe will severely dent his political reputation and image.

Judy Viitanen read the Sunday Times YouGov opinion poll yesterday, which showed that Gordon Brown’s personal popularity rating has fallen further and faster than any other British prime minister since polling began in the 1930s! Judy Viitanen is sure that Downing Street must be alarmed at the fact that since Brown took over from Blair last summer, his personal rating has fallen from plus 48 last August to minus 37 on a zero midpoint scale!!

And it gets worse: reading the Financial Times this morning, the PRimage team learn that a new FT poll reveals that Gordon Brown and the Labour government is losing its much-trumpeted reputation for economic competence. So PRimage is not surprised to hear today that Shadow Chancellor George Osborne pins the blame for the present economic crisis on Gordon Brown. According to the FT, Brown is less trusted to steer his country through the global financial crisis than any other major western European leader!. Judy believes that voters are clearly loosing any faith or confidence they reviously had in the PM – and that these poor poll ratings must surely be a real body blow to his previously much vaunted reputation for economic competence. Has Brown lost his grip? What’s your view?

Housing market hazardous! – PRimage comment

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

Mortgage lending to home buyers has fallen to its lowest level since early 1992, with loans down a third in the past year. And because of this PRimage understand that the Bank of England is under intense pressure to cut rates – we hear that analysts say it is widely forecast to trim British interest rates on Thursday as it monitors fresh evidence of a housing market downturn amid the global credit crunch. Judy Viitanen, like many home-owners in the UK, is very concerned about the gloomy outlook for house prices over the coming year, with predictions of further steep declines and forecasts that property prices could fall by as much as 10%. PRimage hope that Britain isn’t heading for a substantive decline in the housing maket similar to that in the US – but as the credit crunch tightens its grip, we fear that this may indeed be the case!

And to add to these economic woes, PRimage read this morning that the dire news about property prices has impacted on sterling – with the pound falling to a record low against the euro (and it also lost ground against most other leading currencies!). Judy Viitanen hopes we can expect some aggressive interest rate cuts from the Bank of England…. watch this space!

Pharmacy White Paper – CCA and AIMP joint response

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

PRimage believe that pharmacy stakeholders, the media and parliamentarians will be interested to read the detailed comments and views from the Company Chemists’ Association and AIMP Ltd on the Government’s policy proposals and plans for pharmacy, which were outlined in last week’s White Paper:

Commenting on the Government’s White Paper on pharmacies, released on April 3, CCA and AIMp Ltd Chief Executive, Rob Darracott, said:

“The CCA and AIMp welcome the significant intent by Government to develop the role of the community pharmacist in England, as outlined in the White Paper ‘Building on Strengths, Delivering the Future’. We fully support as priority areas for urgent action the expansion as a full NHS service of the pharmacists’ long-standing role in managing minor ailments, and building on the accessibility of pharmacies as the basis for health promotion advice, health screening services and the delivery of vaccination programmes.

“We are particularly pleased to see the commitment to making better use of pharmacists’ knowledge and skills to help patients with long-term conditions manage their medicines and therefore their condition more effectively. We believe there are points in the patient’s care pathway – for example, when starting a course of a new medicine for a long-term condition – when pharmacists, whose professional training encompasses all aspects of the formulation and use of medicines, are the right members of the wider health care team to provide the specific advice patients need.

“Working with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee and the National Pharmacy Association, we provided the Department of Health with some specific examples of innovatory practice where pharmacists have been shown to make a significant impact on health outcomes by responding to patients’ questions about their medicines and helping their understanding of how their medicines will improve their condition. We are therefore delighted to see some of those examples highlighted by the Government in this White Paper as worthy of further investigation and implementation more widely in the NHS.”

“The CCA has expressed its concern over the past year, initially to Anne Galbraith as she was conducting her review of the pharmacy contractual framework, that the processes for commissioning pharmacy services at a local level were not, with some notable exceptions, working as intended. Local initiatives have stalled, and some of the impetus and goodwill arising from the new contract in 2005 has been lost. The Government’s specific commitment to work with the NHS and relevant partners to identify how its world-class commissioning competences should apply to the commissioning of services from pharmacy is therefore welcome, as are the recommendations within the White Paper that commissioners should include community pharmacists in local planning processes and link with pharmacy stakeholders to understand were community pharmacy services can have the greatest impact in meeting the objectives of practice-based commissioning (PBC).

“In the same context of improving local commissioning, the proposal for a fourth category of service – directed enhanced – is an interesting one, providing as it will a more central steer to the process for how national policy direction can be delivered in an NHS that is increasingly and rightly designed around local priorities. In our view, the Government has rightly concluded that services designed to improve medicines use or access to medicines should be taken forward for all patients, and not be subject to piecemeal implementation across the country by PCTs.

“The White Paper acknowledges the investment community pharmacy providers have already made in anticipation of changes in emphasis within the contract towards rewarding more clinical services. CCA and AIMp member companies believe this investment has yet to be properly rewarded, particularly through the commissioned services elements of the 2005 contract, and would want to flag up that other elements are currently working against motivating contractors to invest further. We believe the fair funding approach is the right one, but it needs to be delivered as well as designed, and work needs to be done as a matter of urgency on the contract funding mechanism if it is to be fit for the purpose of supporting the proposals contained in the White Paper.

“We have noted the emphasis within the White Paper on improving quality and in rewarding pharmacists for the health outcomes they achieve. We have been looking at how technology might be used to capture the outputs of pharmacist/patient interactions, and support pharmacists in the delivery of high quality, knowledge-based services. The CCA and AIMp, and their member companies, therefore look forward to playing a constructive part in the design of practical and efficient solutions for implementation of the various elements of what could be the most significant White Paper for community pharmacy services in England since ‘Promoting Better Health’ in 1987.”

Thatcher greatest post-war PM – PRimage agree!

Monday, April 7th, 2008

PRimage have always contended that Lady Thatcher’s three administrations transformed post-war Britain – so we are interested and pleased to see that a new YouGov opinion poll in today’s Daily Telegraph reveals that Britons consider Margaret Thatcher to be the country’s greatest post-war prime minister!  Although the PRimage team are politically neutral for our public affairs and political lobbying work, on a personal level managing director Judy Viitanen and the team are strong Conservative supporters and fans of Lady Thatcher (and of the Tory leader, David Cameron – who we feel is doing a great job, as shown by the Tories well-deserved lead over Labour in recent opinion polls).  

And with our strong links with America, PRimage can report that Lady Thatcher is still greatly admired across the pond as well!

At PRimage we have long recognised and applauded her key achievements. Notably, in curbing the power of the trade unions, through a series of reforms on secondary picketing and the closed shop that Labour has never reversed, her programme of privatising previously state-owned industries, and her stand against the Soviet Union alongside Ronald Reagan that helped win the Cold War.

PRimage MD Judy Viitanen was inspired to get actively involved in local and national politics and serve as Conservative District Counciller by her admiration for many of Mrs Thatcher’s policies in the 1980′s. As a District Councillor, Judy saw first hand the benefits of Thatcher’s innovative ‘right to buy’ council housing policy – which enabled many former council tenants to become home-owners for the first time. Judy also witnessed first hand the riots in the Council Chamber at St Albans District Council (which made front-page headlines) over the ill-fated introduction of the Poll Tax in 1990! Sadly, the much-hated Poll Tax was a decision that precipitated Thatcher’s political downfall.

PRimage recognise that for many Labour supporters, Lady T is a divisive figure – but PRimage take a realistic and objective viewpoint that the Thatcherite legacy continues to shape Britain: it positively altered the political axis from state-centred collectivism to private enterprise and the free market …. and, most importantly, it influenced the Labour Party to abandon old-style socialism.   From a PR image and public affairs perspective Judy believes that it’s some accolade that this opinion poll shows Lady Thatcher’s enduring political appeal with the public …. and that Maggie at her peak would sweep to power in a general election held today!

Do you agree?

Pharmacy’s Potential – PRimage viewpoint

Saturday, April 5th, 2008

PRimage believe that the Pharmacy White Paper should be welcomed as a very positive step towards developing further opportunities for the NHS and pharmacies to unlock the potential of community pharmacy for the long-term benefit of the health service and patient healthcare and wellbeing. After all, pharmacists are highly trained professionals who do so much more than just dispense prescriptions – as many of the profession’s influencing messages over recent years have reminded opinion formers.

However, Judy Viitanen feels that some of the professional bodies must look carefully at their communication and media messages. For example, the PRimage team have noted some ‘mixed messages’ in the past week from the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), which could leave the public, media and parliamentarians somewhat confused ….

Wednesday April 2nd, we saw a comment from the NPA in the Daily Telegraph, which said: “Pharmacists train for five years and are able to do far more than dole out prescriptions.” On Friday April 4th, the NPA welcomed the Pharmacy White Paper as ‘a statement of faith in community pharmacy by Government’ – adding that it ‘signals that it’s time to unlock the long recognised potential of community pharmacy.’

Then today we read yet another NPA comment in the Daily Telegraph, within an article, headlined ‘Pharmacies threatened by ‘superchemist’. The quote was: “The National Pharmaceutical Association said independent chemists “rely very heavily on prescription business and we would worry that any change to how prescriptions are dispensed could put smaller chemists out of business”.

MPs expenses – PRimage comment

Friday, April 4th, 2008

The PRimage team read with interest that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are among a group of six MPs who have had their expenses published after a freedom of information request went unchallenged … and it makes interesting reading. For example, it shows that Blair claimed his £116 TV licence while Michael Howard and Mr Brown claimed for their council tax bills on their second home – and all six of the MPs have claimed money to cover mortgage repayments.

PRimage MD, Judy Viitanen, was especially amused to see that former deputy prime minister John (‘who ate the pies’) Prescott claimed £4,000 a year for food! What’s your view on MPs expenses? What should they be allowed to claim as legitimate expenses? Post a comment.

Pharmacy White Paper: PRimage client, Day Lewis Pharmacy say ‘A step in the right direction’

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

The Day Lewis Pharmacy Group has examined carefully today’s policy proposals and ‘broadly welcomes’ the ambitious aspirations, proposals and measures outlined by the Department of Health in the new Pharmacy White Paper ‘Building on Strengths, Delivering the Future’.

As the UK’s largest independent pharmacy multiple, Day Lewis Plc believe that there is much to be gained for community pharmacy policy to be integrated into the thinking around the future of the NHS. For many people, their local pharmacy is quite literally ‘the front door to the health service’, providing convenient patient accessibility to a qualified and experienced healthcare professional.

The company agrees with the Government view that the community pharmacy network is a vastly under-used resource: Day Lewis feels that many of the policy proposals set out in today’s announcement represent a positive opportunity to utilise those skills to provide preventative care for patients.Kirit Patel and his team believe this White Paper signals a significant and timely step forward in terms of clearly acknowledging and implementing the wider role that pharmacy will play in primary care over the next decade.

Day Lewis sees sense and rationale behind plans for pharmacy-based ‘flu vaccination and traveller’s health clinics, and is encouraged that there is a strong focus placed on pharmacy management of long-term conditions, such as asthma and diabetes.The company’s view is that these proposals to put pharmacy into the bigger picture are long overdue, but Day Lewis are encouraged that the profession will finally see future pharmacy policy in synergy with the rest of NHS thinking and planning. However, Day Lewis contend that while many of the policies are an important step in the right direction – with their focus on pharmacy’s role in improving the nation’s health through patient-centred care and pharmacy service innovation – there are still some areas which need to be addressed as a matter of urgency, namely: the two main pressure points affecting community pharmacy – control of entry and purchase profit income.

Commenting on the White Paper, Day Lewis Chief Executive, Kirit Patel, MBE, said:

“We are heartened and encouraged by the focus placed on developing pharmacy’s contribution to the nation’s health. Community pharmacists have already shown just how innovative they can be when given the chance, when extending their roles and responsibilities, such as pharmacist prescribing and pharmacists with special interests. Our pharmacy teams are already helping patients to access high quality care in the communities that Day Lewis operates.  We are heartened and encouraged by the focus placed on developing pharmacy’s contribution to the nation’s health. Community pharmacists have already shown just how innovative they can be when given the chance, when extending their roles and responsibilities, such as pharmacist prescribing and pharmacists with special interests. Our pharmacy teams are already helping patients to access high quality care in the communities that Day Lewis operates.”

“An increased focus on pharmacy’s potential and making community pharmacy services more responsive to patients is welcome, but there also must be the capacity and the resources to make this happen. We will need further detail from the Government about where the money is going to come from to fund these changes and to ensure that these proposals are cost-effective, have proven health benefits, and to make the best and most appropriate use of the community pharmacy workforce.”  

“So, in our view, the next steps are crucial. We look forward to learning more about the key proposals and consultation process on the Government’s plans for reforming the way in which the NHS contracts for services and 100 hours per week pharmacies.”

Another of Day Lewis’s key concerns over the past year has been commissioning policy. The company, along with other pharmacy stakeholders and representative bodies, believe that commissioning policy is core to achieving change in the NHS. Crucially it is also central to pharmacy’s aspirations to expand and develop. This is where future pharmacy policy and the bigger NHS picture converge. As a strong believer in ‘patient power’, Day Lewis are delighted to see that the Government has listened to the public on the services and access that they want from local pharmacies – and are addressing the views and needs of patients.

Mr Patel commented: “We are not surprised to learn that DoH patient surveys conducted in preparation for the White Paper clearly demonstrated the ‘high esteem which pharmacy is held’. Our own anecdotal customer feedback from our 165 pharmacies around the country reinforces this: indicating that the public appreciates that local pharmacists, working at the heart of their communities, can and already do make a very real and positive contribution in helping people make informed choices and develop healthy lives. Day Lewis will certainly be making its views – and those of its customers – heard at the DH planned series of public consultation events around the country.”

Peter Glover, Day Lewis Managing Director and Superintendent Pharmacist, added: “Community pharmacies are located at the heart of each local community – as attested by our Day Lewis Pharmacy company slogan: ‘Serving Our Local Communities’. They already provide ready access to many of the services highlighted in the White Paper. In fact, pharmacists are eager and able to play a key role in managing long-term conditions, improving public health and reducing health inequalities. We have long contended that pharmacy should continue to make an enhanced contribution to primary care – and that it has the potential to deliver many of the Government’s patient healthcare priorities – such as playing a key role in the Government’s recently announced plans for ‘health MOTs’ for everyone aged between 40 and 74. Indeed, many of our Day Lewis pharmacies already successfully operate as ‘healthy living’ centres – actively promoting health and offering our customers and patients the healthcare and advice they need to take better care of themselves.”

Although there remain some anxieties about the possible future plans and effects of Control of Entry regulations and the continued negative financial impact of Category M, Day Lewis executives and pharmacy teams look forward over the next 5 to 10 years to participating in the implementation of these strategies, and to play our part in building on pharmacy’s strengths in primary care and to delivering quality pharmaceutical services and care for patients, value for money for taxpayers and the best outcomes for the NHS.

Pharmacy’s Future: PRimage client, CCA responds to Pharmacy White Paper

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

Commenting on the Government’s white paper on pharmacies, PRimage client, CCA Chief Executive, Rob Darracott, tells Judy Viitanen:“The CCA welcomes the significant intent by Government to develop the role of the community pharmacist, as outlined in the White Paper published today. We fully support as a priority area the development of the pharmacists’ long-standing role within the NHS in managing long-term ailments -and in using pharmacy as the platform for promoting good health through widening access to screening services.”

“We are particularly pleased to see a commitment to making better use of pharmacists’ skills to support patients with long-term conditions and manage their medicines and therefore their condition more effectively. We have long argued that there are times in a care pathway – for example, when a patient takes a new medicine for a long-term condition – where pharmacists have been shown to have a significant impact on health outcomes by responding to patients questions about their medicines and by helping them understand how the medicine will improve their symptoms.”

Community pharmacies to offer GP services – PRimage welcome this move

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

Tomorrow the Department of Health will publish its Pharmacy White Paper ‘Building on Strengths, Delivering the Future’ – PRimage await this eagerly, as we are a specialist healthcare PR agency, with clients in the pharmacy sector. This White Paper is part of a radical shake-up of NHS services – and is expected to deliver on recent Government pledges to factor in solutions that community pharmacy could provide on out of hours healthcare and easily accessible healthcare advice. Judy Viitanen and the PRimage team are active pharmacy lobbyists and champions – both professionally and personally, so we warmly applaud this move to utilise the potential of pharmacy in making the health service more convenient for patients.

It is expected that the White Paper will reveal that patients will be able to get a range of treatments, including vaccinations, health checks – blood pressure tests, cholesterol tests and body mass index measurements – from local pharmacists instead of having to go to their GP. Pharmacists will also will also be expected to take over the management of long-term conditions, such as asthma and diabetes, and carry out regular checks to see if patients’ medication is appropriate. Flu jabs will be available from local pharmacies and pharmacists will also run travel clinics, where people can go for inoculations or malaria tablets.

As PRimage have continually lobbied and reminded parliamentarians and opinion formers, “community pharmacies are the front door to the NHS’ – open 6 days a week for healthcare advice and medicines…. with no appointment needed!” Pharmacists are highly trained healthcare professionals – and on a daily basis the nation’s network of community pharmacies provide customers with a ready and accessible programme of expert advice and healthcare services. What’s more, they are ready and willing to help people improve their health and get fit, with easy to understand advice and information on how to lead a healthier and more active lifestyle.

And as we commented on this blog site last year, Gordon Brown has previously backed a wider role for pharmacy, saying he wants to see community pharmacists taking on more of the work of GPs. During his period of consulting with the NHS, prior to his appointmnt as PM, he said there was a need to make blood pressure checks available at pharmacies and to push on with the electronic prescription service. Gordon Brown said: “We will bring forward plans to extend the range of NHS treatments available through pharmacists for those who choose to take advantage of the convenience of that kind of service.” Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary, also announced that pharmacists would help to carry out the “health MoTs” to be offered to everyone aged between 40 and 74.

Judy was interested to read a report on this move in today’s Daily Telegraph, which highlights that a recent survey found 80 per cent of the public felt their local chemist was the most convenient place to get health care advice. The PRimage team believe this endorses and resonates the healthcare message: ‘Ask Your Pharmacist’ … The public are clearly doing this, with confidence that they will be getting good advice!