In defence of pharmacists

If you were watching ITV’s This Morning on Friday 17th January, you may have witnessed some derogatory – and frankly dangerous – comments about the role of pharmacists in the community.

Sitting alongside Vanessa Feltz on the famous sofa, journalist Sam Delaney claimed pharmacists are ‘fake doctors’, and all they do is ‘collect bottles of pills from the shelf’. Presenter Eamonn Holmes then questioned the integrity of pharmacists by insinuating they have an ulterior motive to sell particular types of medication.

So far, the segment has generated over 2300 complaints to Ofcom and this week the PHA UK has submitted its own.

We stand with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society who say that rather than disparaging pharmacists on national television, we should be “recognising and promoting the vital role pharmacists play in providing healthcare and supporting patients.”

In a statement, their President Sandra Gidley added: “Pharmacists have a huge amount to offer the NHS and we work extensively across the NHS. Pharmacists, including myself, were infuriated by the comments made denigrating a profession which on a daily basis saves people’s lives.”

Pharmacists play a vital role within the UK’s specialist pulmonary hypertension service. They train for years, are very highly skilled, and are responsible for helping ensure patients get the most out of the complex treatment therapies available for PH.

Dr Iain Armstrong, Chair of the PHA UK, said: “As Chair of this charity and a healthcare professional too, I believe the comments made on This Morning were dangerous and I can’t condemn them enough.

“Whilst I understand the views expressed were those of an individual, giving them a national platform is extremely damaging to the pharmacist profession.

“I strongly believe Mr Delaney should have been taken off air following his first spurious claim, that pharmacists are ‘pretend doctors’. To be allowed to continue to degrade the role of pharmacists is shocking and extremely disappointing.

“Pharmacists are true experts and are often more qualified and experienced in drug interactions than a medical doctor. Many these days, like those in the specialist PH service, are prescribers too – and often doctors will refer to the expertise of pharmacists themselves for advice and direction.”

Community pharmacists are also hugely important. They save millions of pounds for the NHS, and we encourage you to use them to their full potential. With most open late nights, and weekends too, they can also be far more convenient than waiting for a GP appointment or contacting your specialist PH centre.

Here’s what your community pharmacy can help with:

  • Dispensing prescriptions and arranging repeat prescriptions
  • Emergency medicine supplies
  • Non-prescription medicine such as paracetamol
  • Stronger medicines only available from pharmacies (‘over-the-counter’ medicine)
  • Weight management and smoking cessation services
  • Flu jabs
  • Advice about minor ailments (such as colds, coughs, aches and pains, cystitis and skin rashes)

…..and much more besides!

You can find your nearest pharmacy by clicking here

Last medically reviewed: January, 2020 • January, 2023