EDITORIAL for Monday 30 March 2015

Welcome to this weeks’ edition of i2P (Information to Pharmacists) dated 30 March 2015.
All is not morally well in the world of pharmacy.
As pharmacists we exist as individuals often belonging to specific groups, factions or other forms of association.
As a member of a profession the behaviour of each individual reflects on the entire profession to eventually create a perception.
That perception will be viewed differently by people outside of our profession, and if sufficiently strong, will form up as an image for the entire profession.

If a negative image is strong enough it is sufficient to cause disintegration of a profession’s entire fabric, because image equates to the collective “brand”.
We are all collectively responsible through each individual pharmacist.

A negative image has to be collectively countered and the only way it can be reversed is for the profession to be open on all fronts, reaffirm its values and point to a professional life played out under a proper code of conduct.

When there are public calls for an investigation into all participants in the 5CPA contract, the pharmacy component should welcome participation as the first step in being “open” – because all members of the profession become tainted if this is not seen to be done.
To say it would be a waste of taxpayer’s money is not a good enough excuse for avoidance.

That there is division in pharmacy ranks is becoming increasingly obvious.
The big issue on the pharmacy side is that there is a lack of confidence in the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (PGA) by some sectors of pharmacy that want government negotiations to reflect a whole of pharmacy approach.
This will never happen because of bias that occurs when the PGA on the one hand, unashamedly claims to only represent its members while on the other hand misleadingly claiming to be able to negotiate for all of pharmacy.

We once had a writer for i2P who left us for a political career within the PGA.
We thought very highly of him then and still do now.
He claimed that “he punched well above his weight politically” and recent events have shown this claim to be a truthful one, but it has not gone far enough.

We at i2P hope that he will extend himself to the limit, to ensure that the PGA does open itself up for public examination.
And we further hope that a sense of fairness and balance returns to policies concerning relationships with all other pharmacy organisations.

Every now and then it seems that the entire world is lined up against pharmacy with a litany of criticisms, many of which we would declare completely unfounded.

So this week we established a profile for our recently installed Minister for Health, Sussan Ley to identify the person who will control pharmacy’s destiny from this moment on.
She will be the person responsible for the carriage of the 6CPA contract and it is important that she take the time to understand the profession of pharmacy and to determine a correct view of pharmacy’s image.
If she does not get it right, all pharmacists will suffer unnecessarily and she can use her power to influence a good outcome for pharmacists and government by fostering change – by insisting on an “all of pharmacy” negotiation, coupled with good management and attitudes from her health bureaucrats.

The last time we created a profile was when Nicola Roxon was in the same portfolio, and apart from both being capable women, there are quite a few similarities.

Sussan Ley is definitely someone who should be respected and not taken for granted.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia (PGA) must be feeling a bit beleaguered having to deal with so many diverse warlike activities, one of which is getting the 6CPA negotiations under way now, rather than wait for a year.

Military experts, when commenting on management and the conduct of a war all seem to agree on one point – never manage a war on two fronts simultaneously.
There has also to be unity of purpose and complete collaboration and loyalty with all combatants that are “on your side”.

The PGA is seen to be vulnerable due to dissention within the ranks of a range of pharmacy organisations; the regular and reasonably benign CPA negotiations appear to be shaping up to be adversarial; and relationships with other health professional groups (mostly doctors) also seem to be “at odds with each other”.

It could be said that because of pharmacy disunity internally that strategic information “leaks” have been occurring to mainstream media (the Murdoch Press) and they are backing the anti-PGA forces, helping to divert resources and effort that would normally be cohesive within pharmacy.

So there is a war on three fronts – internally between pharmacy organisations, government at the 6CPA level and the medical profession that is waging a war on multi-fronts on a covert and overt level.
The level of engagement is only in the early phase but does have the potential to overwhelm the profession at any time.
Unless a truce is declared internally with pharmacist groups and relations restored (particularly with clinical pharmacists), the war is poised to escalate to a level that could even sow the seeds of destruction for the entire profession.

I have never felt like this ever before in my 59 years as a practising pharmacist.
Is it avoidable?
Yes, but the initial solution can only be found in the restoration of goodwill between pharmacists, and the PGA must be seen to hoist the olive branch well before we all drown in a sea of “noise”.

We invite you to read :
Let The Games Begin – Sussan Ley to centre-stage please

Pharmacy Inertia is Crippling Development – Build Clinical Spaces and Move into your Local Area Market Plan

Apple’s Genius Bar – an Opportunity for Pharmacy

They all deal with “starting points” for a renewal of pharmacy and for those who notice, a range of economical opportunities that can create your future directions.

Read also:
Sustainable Technology – Making your own 3D printer recyclable ink filaments

This 3D printing technology not only reduces the price of printer consumables (usually the highest cost) through recycling, but also allows for experimentation and individual research into development of the best filaments for tablet printing.
If you read last weeks’ articles on 3D printing in this edition we make it even more compelling for pharmacists to learn, understand and use this technology as quickly as possible.

Gerald Quigley has a challenging article this week titled: The Unmet Needs of Cancer, and Loretta Marron has an interesting take on natural medicine titled: Wondrous  Wiggly  Worms!.

And to finish up the offering we have media release collections from the Pharmacy Board of Australia, the PSA and from NPS which has provided information for their “Choosing Wisely” program. Pharmacists are advised to keep an eye out for this program and ensure that pharmacy does have an input because for the moment, it appears to be totally medical in its composition.

Enjoy your read.

Neil Johnston
Monday 30 March 2015

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