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Living wage hike could lead to pharmacy lay-offs, NPA warns Government


Living wage hike could lead to pharmacy lay-offs, NPA warns Government

The National Pharmacy Association has issued a dire warning to policymakers that unless sector funding is overhauled, the increase to the national living wage (NLW) from April could force pharmacies to let staff go.

In a statement today (March 28), the NPA warned that the rise from £10.42 to £11.44 per hour “will cost many pharmacies over £10,000 in salary bills which are not covered by NHS funding,” with some facing wage bill increases “more than twice that amount”. In addition to the hourly rate increase, the Government is also lowering the eligibility age from 23 to 21.

The organisation called on the Government to “address years of underfunding” to prevent pharmacies having to implement lay-offs or service reductions as a result of the NLW increase, and to “prevent further closures of vital local services, which have been shutting at the rate of eight a week”.

Buckinghamshire contractor and NPA vice chair Olivier Picard said that while pharmacy staff “deserve a decent wage,” the coming increase “represents yet another hike in costs for a sector which has lost more than £1.3bn in real terms over the past decade”.

“Each new, unfunded cost makes pharmacies more unsustainable,” said Mr Picard.

NPA chief executive Paul Rees said wages and other costs have “risen relentlessly” since the flat funding contract was introduced, leaving “up to three quarters” of pharmacies running a deficit.

Mr Rees called for a new contractual framework to give business owners breathing room to invest in staff and services, saying: “We need to restore community pharmacy funding to 2.5 per cent of the NHS budget – the historical norm – to keep vital services going.”

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