By Ian Strachan

Cash flow is now terminal, with over 50 per cent of community pharmacies operating in deficit.

Unless there is an immediate injection of funds, the sector is just not sustainable.

At a time when the country reached out for help, community pharmacy teams were there for them; dependable, professional and courageous.

The frontline was pharmacy premises, patient doorsteps and face to face interactions at 2 metres apart.

The community pharmacy network didn’t so much as blink in response to the challenge, its dangers or uncertainty.

Why therefore is the sector so undermined, under-funded and under-utilised?

These are my personal views, not those of the NPA, but I believe our Chief Pharmacist needs to be replaced and the community pharmacy sector championed with passion, conviction and true leadership.

We need someone who fundamentally believes in that cause and the importance of the community pharmacy heartland.

Whether it be exclusion from death in service benefits, lack of PPE, inadequate funding or 48 hours’ notice of Bank Holiday opening, these problems are systemic and driven by the negative views of individuals within NHS England rather than the public.

There is clearly a lack of trust in community pharmacy at the highest levels – a deep seated reticence to embrace or recognise the sector’s value and contribution.

The broken funding system is incapable of sustaining community pharmacy until December 2020, never mind 2024.

I believe that community pharmacy needs to step away from the structures and constraints which prevail at NHS England.

If Covid-19 has proven anything, it’s that community pharmacy is worthy of investment and the possibilities for the sector are endless.

Realisation of that potential requires a fresh pair of eyes, a fresh approach and a new dawn post the coronavirus pandemic.

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