Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Dance of the lemmings?

I could be polite. But I shan't be. You have been warned.

What a bunch of utter pillocks we must look to the outside world, let alone to DoH, Commissioning GP bodies and everyone else who likes a good laugh at some inept set of individuals making a mockery of themselves in public.

Positions on comissioning bodies as a matter of right? Only for the position of Court Jester, these hard pressed people in charge of delivering healthcare under the worst financial constraints since the end of World War Two could do with a moment or two of mirth, and we're there to provide it.

In case you are at all unclear at what I refer to, click on the following link to read the full and bizarre truth about the morons we pharmacists are.


If it doesn't work, e-mail me and I'll repost the thing. Unbelievable what a set of plonkers we are!

Some of us have taken it upon ourselves to report ourselved for poor performance. How noble! How gallant! How sh1t for brains f%^$£$&G stupid can we get? On second thoughts, please, NOBODY ANSWER THAT! We might regret it even more. Any volunteers for a red hot poker up the jacksie? Yes! Silly b*&^^%r pharmacists will try that. Anything for a laugh those chums of ours, I can hear them say.

What about the future? Forget it! With clowns like these, who needs water pistols? At least they aren't real guns, then we could shoot ourselves in both feet. But as usual, being so inept, we'd probably miss! Cause to report ourselves for poor performance?

How have we come to this?

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Eggs on the lawn at dawn?

It's a Lancashire New Years Eve/Day tradition, probably replicated elsewhere in the country. Following the excesses of New Years Eve, breakfast on the New Year Dawn is welcome to many.

It's 23rd November and if I hear one more in-store Christmas song, hymn or other ditty, I might just fail to resist the temptation to turn these items into a suppository! The television and radio obsess with unrepeatable deals (until next time) and "must-have" items for all.

We don't get this nonsense for Diwali, Ramadan or any other "faith" group celebration. I use the terms "faith group" advisedly, not to insult anyone. Christmas is a Christian festival to commemorate the birth of the Christ, if that's what you believe in. I can't quite figure out where the excesses of finance, gluttony, alcohol, spending money people don't have, on things the recipients don't want, let alone to consider the so called "entertainment" on television? Get me out of here, I've had enough already.

As the good Mr Ebeneezer Scrooge said, "Celebrate Christmas in your way, and leave me to celebrate it in mine".

So in the true spirit of the Season of Goodwill to All Men (are women excluded?- my life will be even more miserable at Christmas if so!) Easter 2011 will fall on Sunday 24th April 2011. A Happy Easter to all, and please note that in the New Year you will be able to order on-line from our new on-line sweet shop. It was going to be called "Get Stuffed with chocolate", but we had a rethink, as it sounded a little aggressive. I reckon we're the first to get in with Easter next year. Beaten Marks & Sparks, anyway. This isn't just Easter, this is NPS Easter.

By the way, even though these events come around every year, why is it that so many companies seem caught out and struggle to cover the dates around Christmas and Easter, let alone summer holidays? Saving money? Don't think so. Book it now, have done with it and enjoy a mortar and pestle shaped "morsel" from our portfolio.

Happy Halloween to you all - it's in the pipeline! Only 300 and something days to go. Get your trick or treats ready now, at special unrepeatable prices.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Inciting terrorism?

On all the news channels, newspapers and media, it seems that we in England at least have sunk to a new low! A plot is uncovered to strike at the heart of our democracy, religious zealots hijacking the cause of religion to turn the mainstream majority into a frenzy of hatred. We are at the highest state of alert, with all the forces of national security and state machinery being turned against the suspected perpetrators of such an awful plot.

Sounds familiar, it could be any day since 9/11 or 7/7.

Worse, there are many who celebrate! They party, they commemorate that the thought of this potential outrage, this terrorist atrocity, this audacious attempt to set citizen against citizen, to fuel racial and religious hatred the world over. It is truly a scandal. And yet there is the potential for these horrible people to be remembered long after the meaning of what they believed in, that which led them to believe in their hearts that the ends justified the means, to enter into the collective memory and be celebrated, to be glorified, not vilified. The people of New York, of Mumbai, or Darfour, will remember crucial dates for ever, the dates etched into their hearts with sadness, with memories of innocent loved ones lost in ultimately pointless acts of evil. Time heals these wounds, it appears. Let us hope so.

London and Britain remember too, what could have been the greatest terrorist atrocity of all on these shores, had it succeeded. 5/11.

Remember, remember, the fifth of November, gunpowder, treason and plot. Are we guilty as charged?

Friday, 29 October 2010

Halloween horrors

It nust be Halloween when the usual trick or treat brigade venture out.

I'm talking about the ongoing process where both locums and agencies are coming in for an onslaught of derision and devaluation without any prominence being given to the reality of locum life in pharmacy.

Those publications that I have written to or otherwise contacted over the past few nonths, asking that they allow a balanced response or rebuttal to claims that locums are of poor quality, offer poor value for money, won't provide services and any other faulire within pharmacy to get it's act together, include people who should know better. Not just because they are pharmacists, because not all are. Not just because editors have a responsibility to provide balance to articles, letters and features which appear in their publications. Not even because many vested interests have their own agenda and are using this issue as one of many smokescreens for what our "leadership" (whoever or whatever they are) are failing to address - let's not go there just now, my soap box is in for repair.

By failing to bring the profession together in the way that the doctors, nurses and other professionals have achieved, we remain weak politically, within the negotiating sphere and within the areas where we need to make our voice heard. If we do not, the profession is heading down a blind alley, an evolutionary cul de sac, and we won't exist in the form we recognise, if we exist at all, in another five to ten years.

Over the years we at NPS have got used to hearing from pharmacists, be they locums, managers, owners, about how they can't wait for the next few years to be over so they can pack in, as they have had enough of the way things are going, of how interference from outside the profession by people who just do not comprehend what issues are involved in our work is damaging, not improving what we do. We have got used to may experienced pharmacists expressing frustration with not feeling able to do their job the way they believe and know from experience, how it should be done, and who state "If I could find something else to do which kept me and my family as comfortable financially as this job, I'd do it tomorrow".

That is really sad, but it's worse to hear it from pharmacists who only qualified a few months ago! These people really are looking for something else and will take it, even if it means retraining. What a waste, what a shame, what a scandal.

Are you happy to be one of the so called "lazy locums" when you know you're not? Are you happy to carry out MUR's, EHC, Smoking Cessation, Minor Ailments, Repeat Dispensing, Electronic Transfer and so on, when you hear that locums won't provide these services?

We need to unite behind an idea and a principle that does not divide us, with the result that we are always conquerd. We need to take back our agenda, think it through, take it out to people, prove it can work and then make it happen, not wait for some pen pusher who wouldn't know a patient if they fell over one on their way to the next vital meeting.

Time to go, the trick or treaters are at the door!

Monday, 25 October 2010

In the kingdom of blind cynicism, the one eyed man is king.

We seem to liver in a world, or at least a country, where cynicism is a way of life. The spending cuts recently announced were inevitable, whoever won the last election. It was always a question of how much, how quickly, and not, "we mustn't cut spending". The media, however, have gone off on their rabble rousing activities where even the impartial BBC keep asking us "What's fair for you - are you a winner or a loser?" Maybe we should ask the French or the Greeks what is fair and what isn't.

How many times have you come across a situation where a customer asks you for change? The common stock response, or politely drafted head office answer is "I'm sorry, but we aren't allowed to open the till unless it's to make a sale", which really means "No, we're a pharmacy, we supply medicines. I think it's the bank you want, why not go and ask them for your change?"

On one of my weekly days of work in the real world as opposed to the office, what I like to think of as my "back to the floor" task, I recently got asked the very question. No, not "Is it fair?", but, "Could you possibly change this £5 note into £1 coins for me?" As I was working in someone elses pharmacy, I asked the dispenser whether the company allowed us to do so. I didn't want to get anyone in trouble for acting on my own initiative, nor to set a precedent for the future which might be uncomfortable for all concerned. I didn't get the answer to the question, she simply checked the change tin and swapped the note for the coins and carried on with what she had been doing.

The elderly lady seemed rather pleased and thanked us profusely, wandered about the small sales area and perused the shelves for a moment or two, then shuffled towards the exit, wishing us a very good day and thanking us again. Just before the door, she stopped by the till and carefully put the five £1 coins into the Macmillan Charity Box, and walked away without looking back.

Of course, businesses have to pay at the bank when they put in a change request, so there will have been some financial cost to that business in handing over the five £1 coins, even though the powers that be there may never know it took place, would they have sanctioned the "transaction" had they known?

Coincidentally, less than an hour later, two representatives of the charity came in and asked to empty the box. I recounted my tale of the coins and asked whether they accepted notes in the boxes. They weren't entirely sure but felt that any donation would be acceptable, whatever the form, as I'm sure we all would. Our conversation drifted round to all the good work done by this and other charities, and whether the government understood just how much people depended on services such as those provided by Macmillan. Anyone who has would understand immediately that their work is priceless, but we also concluded that people would do good works not because of the payment, but because only another human, not a government, can understand how much a hand to hold when you are lonely, or a voice at the other end of a telephone when you don't know what to do next, can transform your world.

The ladies were delighted with the money they had collected from the charity box. For the record, it was around £38. If every box they emptied contained as much as this, they explained, we could do so much more. "It just shows that there are a lot of good people out there", they concluded as they were leaving. I am left wondering how many charity boxes around the country are all the more poor because the owner or manager of the premises refuses to give change unless they open the till for a sale.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

The power of unity

Only a person with a heart of stone could not fail to be moved at the plight of los 33, the Chilean miners who this morning were all saved from their underground prison and walked into the promised land of Camp Hope. Perhaps once in a generation, an event where the prayers, belief, empathy of the world unite behind a group of fellow human beings trapped in a struggle to survive against apparently impossible odds. The last time I recall such a world wide event of this nature was the Apollo 13 moonshot.

Both the miners and astronauts had a number of factors working together in their favour. The individuals were united in their determination that they would survive. They were united in their trust in those working tirelessly on their behalf, to think the unthinkable and come up with some ingenious answers, previously never considered, to move heaven and earth and bring them safely home to their loved ones. How they delivered the impossible!

Unity is an amazing concept, hence the phrase "Divide and conquer". All the miners pulled together and worked together in their own way to ensure that as a group, they were in the best circumstance to react positively when the moment of their deliverance came. The unshakable belief of both them and all the support workers and families, so long camped above the mine, that they were all working together for a common aim, that they would succeed against all odds, is inspiring to us all.

We could all learn a little bit from hope, belief and unity. Let's hope none of us is ever in a situation like the Apollo 13 crew or los 33 to have to learn for ourselves what it takes to face the unknown and walk away intact. But just in case, perhaps tomorrow, we should take a first step towards it. We shouldn't waste our chances, as one day, we might be so fortunate as them.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Publish and be damned!

We've had a number of difficulties to deal with over the past couple of months which we have kept to ourselves, but have now resolved (we hope!) and some of these along with other things we wanted to tell people have been featured in our e-newsletter for October 2010, which was sent to anyone on our mailing list last night.

If you haven't received a copy, it is because you are not on the list. A copy will be available from our website next week, but if you want to receive a copy before then, along with future e-newsletters, please get in touch and provide us with your e-mail address.

As is ever the case with these new ideas, things didn't go quite to plan. On the plus side, it only took eleven minutes to send to a few thousand people and we didn't cause any servers to crash, as far as we know.

One or two people did receive more than one e-mail, as they were in the mailing list more than once and although we did try to check to prevent this, as it was a manual check (no women took part in the checking), inevitably, it was bound to be imperfect. One lucky person did receive twenty six e-mails, all attaching the newsletter. However, as this happened to be our IT manager, it wasn't too big a deal. We analysed the problem to try to prevent future similar episodes and concluded the fault lay with the nut on the keyboard.

The point of using the newsletter is to quickly and comprehensively get across to a large audience information which would take us a long time to repeat to everyone and which may not always be relevant to each and everyone of us. In addition to communicating information via our website, which is averaging 60 000 hits a month and growing, it gives us chance to promote ideas, especially at a time when individuals in the world of pharmacy appear to be being crowded out and having their voices drowned out by big organisations.

Both we, and you, need to make our voices heard and not continue to allow events to overtake us or move us in directions which we do wish to go and more importantly, which we know to be wrong for the profession and the people whom we collectively serve. Together, we are stronger than any of us could possibly be alone. We should remember that.