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Soc Sci Med. 2001 Oct;53(7):943-55.

The reprofessionalisation of community pharmacy? An exploration of attitudes to extended roles for community pharmacists amongst pharmacists and General Practioners in the United Kingdom.

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Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, University of Cambridge, UK.


In the light of recent developments within the British National Health Service some sociologists have suggested that the medical profession's status is under threat. They have specified a range of factors contributing to this state of affairs, such as the new consumerism; however, it is thought that attempts by other, related occupations at reprofessionalisation are particularly significant in this trend. It may be possible to understand recent initiatives at extending community pharmacists' role within this framework. This paper suggests that while community pharmacy is developing strategies to enhance its professional status, it is not so much an attempt at usurping general practitioners'(GPs) (primary care doctors') role as a bid for survival, especially on the part of the rank and file. However, GPs do not necessarily see the initiatives in this light. Although many GPs are accommodating some changes in community pharmacy, they also perceive some of the initiatives as a threat to their autonomy and control, this was especially evident in representative bodies such as the Local Medical Committee. Doctors' accommodating attitudes were qualified with traditional attitudes of dominance such as 'limitation' and 'exclusion'. Such attitudes could prevent community pharmacy from achieving professional status. However, there is also evidence that pharmacists themselves contribute to this situation because many of them also attribute ultimate authority to doctors. Moreover, they are held back by internal occupational divisions particularly between retail pharmacists and employee pharmacists, with the former being the most insecure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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