This issue features one of the most thought-provoking and impactful columns I’ve read in a long time. Some healthcare professionals choose to ‘journal’ their trajectory through the healthcare system with a serious illness, and it is always enlightening. Sometimes, it exposes healthcare professionals to what it’s like floundering around healthcare systems with great uncertainty as to their short- and long-term health prospects.

In this edition, Terry Maguire describes how he had a heart attack recently while abroad and he does so in a stoic fashion, with the analytical eye and objectivity you would expect from a healthcare scientist. Coincidentally, Ultan Molloy also discusses his many encounters with burnout and how some of the more stressful aspects of being a pharmacist can significantly contribute to a decline in overall wellbeing. As Ultan points out, prevention is better than cure.

But as former Galway hurling captain Ollie Canning once said, “hindsight is the foresight of a gobshite” and it is indeed easy to be self-critical and look back at what could have been done differently. Terry’s heart disease and faulty fiveyear-old stent caught up with him and he was thrust into the French healthcare system which, as he described, compared favourably with the NHS, as he discovered when he returned home.

However, it was telling to read the inordinate stress he had been under for the previous 19 months due
to you-know-what. It was almost impossible for healthcare professionals, and especially pharmacists,
to take a step back during Covid and take care of themselves a little better. Terry describes the stress caused by dealing with the system overall, general practice, and difficult patients and customers since March of last year.

Now that we are emerging cautiously from the pandemic, it would be timely for decision-makers, representative bodies and the regulator to ramp-up some wellbeing initiatives specifically directed towards pharmacists. The HSE and Department of Health have in the past been guilty of not being sufficiently focused on the wellbeing of healthcare professionals.

In fairness, the representative bodies and colleges have in recent years developed some health initiatives.
There has historically been an unspoken culture in healthcare in general — and even among the public — that vital healthcare professionals like pharmacists and doctors are somehow immune to, or better able to handle, inordinate amounts of stress or an illness of some kind.

The Practitioner Health Matters Programme quietly helps many of these people. Pharmacists, like doctors, are not indestructible. They never were. Awareness of this is increasing very slowly, but more needs to be done at the top-table to aggressively pursue policies to improve the health and wellbeing of pharmacists in a proactive way, especially after the insanity of the past 19 months. Covid is not the emergency it once was, so the chance is there now.

THAR AN GCUNTAR AS GAEILGE

Tar éis ceist a fháil ó chógaiseoir i gCorcaigh, a bhuaileann le custaiméirí ag ceannach nó ag fiosrú faoi stiallacha chun fiacla a ghealladh (teeth whitening strips), an mhí seo beidh na rialacha maidir lena ndíol á phlé againn. Seo a leanas na rialacha a bhaineann le comhdhéanamh agus díolachán an táirge seo in Éirinn: 1. Tá cosc ar táirgí atá níos mó ná 0.1% de shárocsaíd hidrigine a dhíol go díreach leis na tomhaltóirí in Éirinn. 2. Ní mór do tháirgí ina bhfuil idir 0.1% agus 6% de shárocsaíd hidrigine iontu a úsáid faoi mhaoirseacht dhíreach fiaclóir cáilithe. 3. Tá cosc iomlán ar táirgí ina bhfuil níos mó ná 6% sárocsaíd hidrigine iontu.

Meastar gur táirgí cosmaideacha mídhleathacha iad. Mar a léirigh mé, tá na rialacha a bhaineann leis na táirgí seo sainiúil agus soiléir. Ba chóir don chógaiseoir a bheith aireach agus iad ag glacadh le táirgí cosmaideacha atá le díol ina gcógaslann. In Éirinn, is cuid dár reachtaíocht é go mbíonn liosta de na comhábhair ar an táirge. É sin ráite, uaireanta ní bhíonn sé seo an cás más ó chuideachta neamh-chomhlíontach na cosmaidí. Ba chóir do chógaslanna taifid a choinneáil ar gach soláthróir.

Ansin caithfear sonraisc agus duillíní seachadta a choinneáil ar feadh 3 bliana eile tar éis iad a fháil. Mar fhocal scoir, tá méadú ag teacht ar dhíolacháin táirgí den ghné seo. Is cosúil go bhfuil sláinteachas béil níos tábhachtaí ná riamh, nó an chuma ar shláinteachas béil maith, ar a laghad. Ó tharla go bhfuil an treocht thart le beagnach trí bliana anois, b’fhearr dúinn a bheith compordach leis an reachtaíocht a bhaineann lena ndíol.