A survey of Numark members following the news of the proposed cuts, found that 62% are ‘Likely’ or ‘Highly Likely’ to stop prescription delivery and other ‘free’ services, with an inevitable impact on patients.

A Numark member said: “We will become busy fools if we continue to provide free services. Regrettably, it's the patient who will suffer once again as pharmacies make further efficiencies on behalf of a clueless DH and PSNC.”

John D’Arcy, managing director of Numark, said: “The survey results make for stark reading and demonstrate the invidious position most contractors are in. Our members don’t need me to say that now is not the time to cut staff or cancel investment in their businesses, they know their situation and have given these matters plenty of thought.”

“However, I would urge that contractors review how they can increase their income before they make cuts that will weaken their competitive situation. The ultimate loser is, of course, the patient—and the most vulnerable ones at that.”

Staff and locum costs are the main focus for savings in independent pharmacies as a way of dealing with the reduction in funding. Eighty per cent of respondents said that they were likely or highly likely to reduce existing staffing costs with a further 83% likely or highly likely to reduce their locum cover and fees. The majority of members who returned the survey will review incomings as well as outgoings; 59% stated they were highly likely to work on increasing script volume and 50% highly likely to increase income from services. However, several noted that with reduced staffing it would be difficult to achieve.

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