Pharmacy funding cuts: day one

The long-awaited 12 per cent cut to community pharmacy funding in England comes into effect on 1 December. Leading voices in the sector have warned of the impact this will have on businesses and patient care, and encouraged contractors to regroup and consider how a “better deal” might be secured. 

The NPA has issued a statement saying the government “has embarked on a dangerous path which puts England’s network of local pharmacies at risk and misses an opportunity to dramatically improve healthcare across the country.” 

The Association speaks of “two possible futures for community pharmacy” – one where it is allowed to deliver to its full potential in assisting the NHS, and one where patients will suffer due to a lack of investment in locally-based care.

Despite the gloom and uncertainty, the NPA says it is still determined that “community pharmacy gets on the right path.” It calls on the government and the NHS to “maximise the benefits of accessible face-to-face care and local pharmacy premises… Local pharmacists can do much more to help people manage long-term conditions and also to take pressure off GPs and hospitals by offering convenient urgent care services”. However, this requires investment, not funding cuts, the Association argues.

NPA chair Ian Strachan has addressed members directly in a letter saying that while “there are undoubtedly difficult times ahead… united within the NPA, independents can come through the other side resilient and strong. 

“This story didn’t begin with the announcement of the cuts and it doesn’t end with the imposition of the cuts. We are engaged in a long-term campaign to secure the future of independent community pharmacy and it is far from over.” 

Strachan speaks of the importance of getting government officials on board with this campaign, saying they “need to be won over to the idea that community pharmacy is a solution to some of the NHS’s most pressing challenges. Without that, we won’t get the fundamental shift in policy direction that is required for the sector to thrive. “

The letter concludes with advice for members: “Right now, examine your numbers and review your wider business affairs, to make sure you are fit for the future. Get in touch with the NPA about the business services we offer – many of which are free of charge within your NPA membership package.”

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