GHP September 2015

ghp September 2015 | 11 industry insight Enhancing the NHS/Pharma Relationship What I’m talking about here are probably the two most important groups of movers and shakers for protecting health on the Globe. Both Pharma and the NHS are constantly striving for the same thing – benefits to patients - but if I didn’t know what I was looking at, it could have been a set of rules for keeping gift bearing window cleaners at arm’s length! Always in the same direction; never the other way round. I exaggerate, of course, to make the point but some- thing would seem to be missing in the relationship between these two and that something is trust. But it’s more complicated than that, because the NHS Lead- ership has been quietly working away at developing a strong trust base in the public psyche. As I write this article, one of our most revered hospi- tals has just been put into special measures. To which the universal response from both public and press alike is that the hospital will pull through, things will be okay and that the staff are absolutely wonderful. i.e. forgiven on every front – trusted. But what happens when pharma are alluded to in the press? Reports on NHS budget overspend often refer to the excessive cost of drugs. Which do you believe to be the most likely reaction from the public? i. Yes, drugs are expensive but these wonderfully innovative pharma companies need to recoup their investment in order to get funding for the next drug [trusted] or: ii. They’re just out to make money [not trusted] Most recently, we have begun to see suggestions that antibiotics’ days are numbered and we may be plunged back into the dark ages. Which do you believe to be the most common response across the land? i. To be fair, how can pharma companies justify years of research and development without seeing a clear way of recouping their investment [trusted] ii. They don’t care. If it won’t make money, they won’t do it [jury’s out!] WHY DOES THIS MATTER? We all know that the NHS is facing huge difficulties but the leadership teams have been doing something very right. As a nation, we love our NHS and we trust every sin- gle organisation and person in it. Not only us, but staff are fiercely loyal, working long shifts with shrinking resources, turning out to emergencies wherever and whenever required. And when we see that, we forgive them when something doesn’t go quite right; repeat- edly offering the benefit of the doubt! By contrast pharma companies have always had a certain mystique; shrouded in secrecy and security, as they are, with people in white coats developing drugs that will change the world! We actually know very little about them - other than rumours from the past about how they promoted of their drugs. Whilst things have undoubtedly changed, pharma are still facing an uphill climb to escape the sentence of being not quite trusted. WHAT IS TRUST? All of us trust, to a greater or lesser degree, according to the context being defined. Trust underpins and affects the quality of our every waking moment; our relationships our communication, every effort in which we are en- gaged. But there are implications too for the wider world. A recent survey conducted by British sociologist, David Halpern revealed that whereas only four decades ago in Great Britain, 60% of the population In seeking inspiration for this article I thought I’d have a look around to catch the latest happenings in the pharma/NHS world; and so I hopped on to Google…. as you do! Yet, time and time again I was stopped in my tracks by a curious incongruity in what I was reading.