I wrote in my article earlier this week that pharmacists save lives, and was asked on this very page to back up my claim. This article is for the GP who took the time to comment, with thanks.
Over the last few months, the National Pharmacy Association has been collecting testimony from pharmacists all over the country about their role within their communities, and the responses go to show exactly how far above and beyond the call of duty that some of these extraordinary individuals have gone to help patients and, even, yes, in some cases saving lives.
Here are just a handful of examples out of many hundreds:
The visitor from out of town who came in feeling unwell and after a blood pressure test by a pharmacist was sent straight to hospital where she had heart surgery that afternoon.
The patient with chest pains who'd been prescribed a heartburn remedy, driven to hospital by a pharmacist where he then had two stents fitted.
The pharmacist who arranged for a district nurse to come out in the middle of the night to help a patient in pain who'd been asked to wait until the GP was open.
The pharmacist who trains teachers how to respond to an asthma attack. The pharmacist who spotted a patient's anaemia.
The stories are plentiful; Pharmacists driving through snow to deliver medicines without missing a single order and without charge. Pharmacists turning their shops into flood relief centres and swimming through metre-high water with a full backpack to get vital supplies to vulnerable patients.
Of course, the entire health service is full of examples of extraordinary individuals who are going above and beyond the call of duty every single day, every one of whom is under increasing pressure - our doctors, our nurses, our GPs, our surgeons, our paramedics, our porters, our technicians, our counsellors - and yes, obviously, our pharmacists too!
We are all engaged in life-saving at every level of the NHS - caring is the very nature of every healthcare professional. The Prime Minister claims that we are all in this together and he is right; in every individual at every level of our magnificent health service is a fervent desire to protect both it and our patients. Everyone who works in healthcare is in it together to protect the NHS.
A poll last year found that a massive 34% of GPs plan to retire within the next five years - perhaps my friend the GP knows some of them. This will put yet more pressure on the health service. As I have written before and as is clearly demonstrated by the above, pharmacists are very capable of relieving some of this pressure.
Of course I will evangelise for & on behalf of pharmacists but it is clear to me at least that all healthcare professionals care equally about their patients and every one of us is equally under pressure, and in some cases under threat.
We will win the fight for the NHS one battle at a time - so please, sign the petition and ask our MPs to debate the plans that put up to a quarter of all pharmacies at risk.