The UK’s connections regulator, Ofcom, has collected more than 2,300 charges the subsequent comments made about pharmacologists on ITV’s This Morning.
As part of the conference broadcast on 17 January 2020, guest Sam Delaney, a journalist, and broadcaster, stated that sufferers could end up “being called ‘fat’ by a chemist who I believe community usually — rightly or wrongly — don’t [sic] have much regard for anyway because we think that they assume to be doctors.”
He further stated that pharmacologists’ job was to “collect the box of pills behind them.”
The TV program interview supported the publication of a draft quality standard from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence on how society pharmacologists might promote health and wellbeing.
It proposed that community pharmacists could offer advice on weight loss, stopping smoking, cutting down on drinking as part of general discussions with sufferers about adopting a healthy lifestyle.
A spokesperson for Ofcom told The Pharmaceutical Journal that 2,313 complaints had so far been made since the program was broadcast. Figures from the regulator show that this could place it in the top ten most complained about TV shows over the past decade.
Sandra Gidley, a director of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), has characterized the remarks as “remarkably frustrating and concerning,” adding that “apothecaries should reduce a huge amount to offer the NHS and we work extensively across it.”
“Pharmacologists, including myself, were infuriated by the comments made denigrating a profession which, daily, saves people’s lives,” she added.
“Given that many describe the NHS as being at breaking point, especially with growing A&E waiting times and staffing deficits, we should be recognizing and promoting the vital role pharmacologists play in providing healthcare and supporting sufferers.”
Gidley went on to explain how the RPS is pursuing opportunities with ITV to profile the pharmacy profession on This Morning, adding that the society had also contacted Delaney to “offer him a visit to a pharmacy to see at first-hand what hard-working pharmacists do daily.”
RPS Ambassador Reaction
Fatema Mamdani, an ambassador for the RPS, told The Pharmaceutical Journal that she had emailed ITV to express her “extreme disappointment” at the program.
Mamdani said many people were “shocked and outraged” by the views expressed, especially as “there has been a shift in the role of pharmacists, as is clear in the NHS long-term plan.”
“It is disappointing to hear that the public doesn’t trust us enough to value our opinion,” she added, saying the segment was “unbalanced [with] no pharmacist available on the show to balance the opinions.”
Following the broadcast, pharmacists took to Twitter to share the range of activities that they perform as part of a typical working day.
A spokesperson for ITV told The Pharmaceutical Journal that the pharmacy comments were part of a more comprehensive discussion of that day’s news.
“During this segment, contributors often express their personal or light-hearted views, which do not always reflect the views of This Morning. Referring to this specific topic, we apologize if there was any offense caused,” the spokesperson said.