THE Co-operative Group-owned National Co-operative Chemists (NCC) has helped establish a six-point charter with other pharmacy co-ops across Europe that will see new quality benchmarks for service and patient care.
The "Six Commitments" were approved and launched at the European Union of Social Pharmacies' (EUSP) annual conference, hosted by the NCC in Manchester.
Delegates from Belgium, France, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland and the UK ? which between them operate over 2,300 pharmacies ? attended the annual conference at the Co-operative Group's headquarters.
They were welcomed by the Group's Chief Executive, Martin Beaumont. Speakers at the conference included Sue Sharpe, Chief Executive of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee and John D'Arcy, Chief Executive of the National Pharmaceutical Association.
The EUSP ? an association of co-operative and mutual organisations, with pharmacy interests ? aims to raise service standards throughout Europe and fight to establish a fair remuneration system for pharmaceutical services. EU lobbying is a key role for the organisation.
Neil Slater, Superintendent Pharmacist for NCC, and co-chair of the conference with EUSP Chairman William Janssens, welcomed a move that will "provide the EU Commission with a distinctive commitment from co-op pharmacies and help differentiate them from other pharmacy services throughout the EU."
The "Six Commitments" strengthen the EUSP's policy of developing patient services based on accessibility, efficiency and safety. They include;
? Identifying and re-assessing customer service expectations and changing needs
? Continued training to upgrade the skills of pharmacists and their staff ? including new courses, conferences and electronic access to training
? Communication between pharmacists and other healthcare providers for greater understanding and better co-ordination
? Providing health training and information to the public through health information campaigns, especially targeting schoolchildren and the elderly, improved hygiene and disease prevention and better working partnerships with municipal, regional and national institutions and associations.
? A quality relationship between pharmacist and patient ? based on accessibility, one-to-one listening, understanding and discretion
? Complete information to the patient regarding the use of medicine supplied. More informative leaflets and labels, better verbal advice at the time of supplying medicines, wider knowledge of interactions between medicines, and the use of software programs containing comprehensive records, information and warnings.
Mr Slater said: "Co-operative and mutually owned pharmaceutical organisations are a major force in Europe and these wide-ranging professional benchmarks provide an effective platform from which we can lobby for change and improvement."
ABOVE? (from left): Neil Slater, Superintendent Pharmacist, NCC and conference co-chairman; Marc-Henri Cornely, General Secretary, EUSP and Martin Beaumont, Co-operative Group Chief Executive.