BBC program highlights community pharmacy

The One Show on BBC One put community pharmacy in the spotlight, showcasing the sector’s vital work during the pandemic to prime-time TV audiences.

The five-minute segment, which aired on May 10, featured Sutton pharmacist Reena Barai and a reception at St. James’s Palace for around 200 pharmacists, including Barai, hosted by the Prince of Wales on May 4.

“It was great to be a part of such a positive story,” said Barai, board member of the National Pharmacy Association (NPA).

“It is heartening that the national media is taking an interest in the sector, as it is too often neglected. Coverage like this both reflects public opinion and shapes it, which is why the NPA works so hard to keep us in the public eye.

The segment told the story of the role of community pharmacy during the pandemic and featured footage from a speech by the Prince of Wales, praising the sector for its contribution to the country’s healthcare.

“Pharmacists are people and places, not just pills, a place where science, so to speak, meets society. I just want to thank you all, more than I can say, for all you do so brilliantly to keep people healthy, and most importantly, save lives. Thank you all,” Prince Charles said at the reception.

Reena Barai (Picture: BBC screenshot)

The show delved into the sector by detailing the work Barai does in his pharmacy, a 43-year-old family business, which included delivering medicine to those protected and delivering Covid shots, among other things.

“Covid has caused the biggest change in [NHS’] the story. We’ve seen people come in when other parts of the NHS weren’t as accessible,’ she told the show.

“We are the only healthcare professional where you don’t need an appointment. You can just walk in.

Local resident Phil Roberts believes this is what saved his life. He walked into the pharmacy because he couldn’t get an appointment with his doctor when he felt ill while playing golf.

“I stayed here; Reena sat me down and took my blood pressure. It was high. She said, ‘please, please come up to the hospital. Reena saved me from having a stroke, there’s no doubt about that,” he said.

The show notes that almost half of Britons are more likely to go to their pharmacist than to the GP, saving doctors up to 24 million appointments a year.

“Over the past two years, almost everyone in this room has worked excessive hours. Some of them still work excessive hours today. And it’s fantastic for him (the Prince of Wales) to recognize that,” NPA chief executive Mark Lyonette said at the reception.

The commercial body worked with the BBC team for weeks to help make the show.

“The One Show is a flagship BBC program and the demographics of its millions of viewers closely match those of pharmacy users. I hope many pharmacists and pharmacy staff will watch the article and share it via social media as it is great publicity for the sector,” said NPA Communications Manager Stephen Fishwick.

The program can be seen on BBC iPlayer here.

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