Community pharmacy is a part of the health service that bucks the inverse care law - there are more pharmacies per head of population in deprived areas than in more affluent areas. I speak for community pharmacists all over the nation when I implore you to bear this in mind as you pursue your aspiration of making Britain a country that works for everyone.
The NHS absolutely cannot handle the closure of up to 3000 pharmacies in addition to its already enormous problems. Officials should get around the table with pharmacists and patients to discuss, from first principles, a future in which the pharmacy sector is vibrant and efficient, and fulfilling its full potential on the health service front line.
Alistair Burt, Health Minister, resigned this week. It's important news. It's not because of a scandal, nor (as he joked) because resignations are contagious. He's just stepping down. Hardly worthy of headlines compared to the Brexit story, the leadership contests or the Chilcot enquiry, is it? Well actually, yes.
Last month the UK's largest ever healthcare petition was delivered to Downing street, containing 1.8 million signatures. Since then another 200,000 more patients, pharmacists and concerned citizens have added their concerns, asking that the government reconsider their ill-conceived plans to reduce investment in local pharmacies. Two million people have spoken, and all we are asking for is that the government simply listens.
There would always be that one patient who seemed really nice (positive attitude to healthcare professionals) and asking about their medicines (engaging with therapy) but who I didn't share a common language with. I had to use crappy broken English, mime, rely on that patient's children or, in a worst case scenario, send them away without giving them any medication counselling.
If the government wants to improve patient access it should invest in this; in allowing community pharmacies to help, instead of closing 'potentially' a quarter of them. Instead of being forced to go to your GP you can walk in to the pharmacist with no appointment and be seen, in most cases, immediately.
This government seems to have ignored the real victims to their proposals: the elderly, the vulnerable, the immobile and those without access to transport. The housebound; those who pharmacy has helped to remain living independently in their own homes for longer. The frail, and those who have little resource or influence to fight back.
Remaining alcohol free for a month is an achievement, which deserves to be rewarded, but compensatory drinking is not what Dry January is trying to advocate. A healthy attitude towards consumption (not necessarily total abstinence) is something which should be practiced during every month of the year to reap lasting health benefits.
Sexual problems like erectile dysfunction often top the list of conditions that people shy away from talking about. But this 'keep quiet, and carry on' tactic means that many are suffering in silence. Around one in every 10 men has a sex-related problem, such as erectile dysfunction (ED), but it's an issue some find very difficult to discuss with friends, partners or even a doctor.
For a long time awareness of what pharmacists do (in addition to dispensing medicines) and how they can help patients has been low. Yet pharmacists can support better patient centred care within health and social care, particularly with the support of other NHS colleagues. And that support is building.