Independent pharmacies could be first to exit market
With the prospect of pharmacy closures following government funding cuts, independent community pharmacies are those most at risk, Salim Jetha, chief executive of Avicenna, has said. â€œIndependents donâ€™t have deep pockets to play waiting game, so are likely to be the first exiters,â€ he told delegates at the groupâ€™s overseas conference.
The current position for pharmacy has no winners, he said. â€œItâ€™s a lose-lose situation for all the stakeholders and thatâ€™s frightening. It makes me boil with anger and itâ€™s a disgrace.â€ There are â€œtough times ahead,â€ he said, commenting that in his 24 years with the Avicenna group thisÂ was â€œthe biggest challengeâ€ he had seen. â€œI own my own business and it hurts a lot.â€
Many of clusters of pharmacies, those being targeted by government in particular, are in deprived areas with multiple needs and offer important services for those communities, he told delegates.Â His main concern is for pharmacy staff, who could be under threat of job losses if pharmacy closures go ahead, with 15,000 jobs potentially at stake, he suggested. This is more people than are affected by the problems at the retailer BHS and the Port Talbot steelworks that have recently hit headline news, he said.
Mr Jetha has written to the prime minister, David Cameron, to express his concerns. â€œI read your views that pharmacy does not provide front line service and yet pharmacy was recommended to be visited first during junior doctor strike,â€he said. He pointed out that the message is a confusing one, and invited Mr Cameron to visit his own pharmacy, in an identified cluster, to see â€œhow we help our local communityâ€. He is encouraging other pharmacies to do the same.
Despite working for the NHS, pharmacists and pharmacy teamsÂ â€œconstantly have to justify our role,â€ he said.
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