On 5 July 2023, the NHS marked 75 years of service, with healthcare professionals across the country celebrating this special anniversary. Here, three community pharmacists reflect on their experience on the health service front line
Community pharmacists have been among the millions of healthcare professionals across the country participating in 75th anniversary celebrations for the NHS.
Scores of events have taken place across the UK as part of commemorations marking the founding of the NHS on July 5, 1948.
Local pharmacies are the most visited of all settings in which NHS care is provided, with some 1.8 million people using pharmacies every day. An essential part of the NHS ‘front line’, they provide a range of health services, from medicines advice to health checks and NHS flu vaccinations.
Rahul Sharda, a pharmacist based in Stoke-on Trent, was among a specially invited group of healthcare professionals invited to 10 Downing Street as part of the celebrations.
“It came as quite a shock to be invited to such a special event,” he said. “We pharmacists often underplay what we do, and this was a reminder that we have a vital role within the NHS team.
“It’s in the DNA of the NHS and community pharmacy to go the extra mile for patients in need. That’s certainly a defining characteristic of my own pharmacy.
“What’s perhaps less understood is the extent to which we give medicines advice to our fellow healthcare professionals and just how much NHS care in the community is a team effort with doctors, nurses and others. Many times our pharmacy advice has been key to facilitating people’s discharge from hospital, for example.
“Looking to the future, I hope that greater use of technology will help join up patient care across the system and achieve a more seamless experience for everyone involved. I don’t think, however, that tech will ever replace the human touch that is at the heart of the NHS.”
Using their expert knowledge of medicines and health to make a positive difference to people’s lives and wellbeing, pharmacists provide care in a range of settings, often at the heart of local communities.
They play a hugely important role preventing people from getting sick by helping them live healthier lifestyles and making sure they get the most from their medicines. They also work daily with other healthcare professionals, such as doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and healthcare scientists, using scientific evidence to deliver care in their local communities.
Bristol-based pharmacist Ade Williams described community pharmacy is the “heart and hands of the NHS” in neighbourhoods across the country.
“Community pharmacy is the most accessible NHS outpost, a place where physical, mental and social challenges affecting the health and wellbeing of our communities gets resolved,” he said. “We perform this role because of the brilliant vision that created the NHS, of which we are an integral part not an adjunct.
“The challenges faced today are multifaceted, the impact of social care and mental health on physical health focusing attention on why parity of attention and resources across all three is essential.”
Reena Barai, a community pharmacist based in Sutton, South London, said the celebrations has helped further remind her of the vitally important work undertaken by pharmacists.
“We feel proud of the personalised care, attention and support we give to all of our patients in our local community and we achieve this by being part of the wider NHS and primary care services, locally,” she said.
“Over the years we have endeavoured to collaborate with our local NHS colleagues such as GPs, district nurses, dentists and local hospital teams, and we will continue to do so, so we can do the very best we can for all our patients.”