Mike Smith puts the world to rights…
Civil rights leader Mahatma Gandhi’s quote “the future depends on what you do today” really seems to apply to the position we find community pharmacy in at this challenging time. Recently, I have spent some time visiting pharmacists to discuss the impact of the cuts on their business.
From this, it is clear there is more going on than the double whammy of the cuts and Category M, both of which are really hitting cash flow. Added to that are other pressures including the increase in the minimum wage and, in some cases, astonishing increases in business rates. I also learnt that CCGs are withdrawing funding for pharmacy services, including PGDs on fusidic acid for impetigo, trimethoprim for UTI, smoking cessation and nystatin for yeast infections. The removal of funding for the emergency supply of medicines is strange, as we still await the finalisation of the new scheme.
I have also heard reports that pharmacists are not receiving referrals from NHS 111 – despite the announcement that this would be encouraged.
All of these problems are a direct result of the decentralisation of payment from national to regional funds. Community pharmacy alone is not affected by these changes. We read almost daily of increased pressure on budgets for health and social care, affecting many of our patients.
I said in this column many years ago that the transition from payment for volume to payment for services will be fraught with danger, and this has clearly proved to be the case. All of these issues come together to cause a ‘perfect storm’, which will inevitably increase pressure on already stretched surgeries and overcrowded A&E departments.