All pharmacy businesses are reporting that they are struggling to find the registered professionals needed to open their pharmacies, clarified the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) in response to an attack by the Pharmacists’ Defence Association.
Last week, PDA allegedly accused some large pharmacy chains of ‘orchestrating’ full or part-time closures of some of their shops due to the staff shortage.
In its Open Letter published on Tuesday (July 19), PDA demanded urgent action “to protect patients by ensuring that essential community pharmacy services are provided safely and consistently”.
“All parts of the healthcare system are struggling to recruit staff and to assume that pharmacies would be immune to such pressures, seems fanciful,” said CCA.
“CCA members are working extraordinarily hard to prevent temporary closures, but recruitment and retention of pharmacists is becoming increasingly tough. The recent rise in Covid cases and the beginning of the summer holiday season in parts of the UK have only worsened the situation.”
The Association also showed data from the PSNC Pharmacy Pressures Survey (April 2022) which found that 91 per cent of pharmacies are experiencing staff shortages, clearly demonstrating that these shortages are affecting the entire sector.
“To accuse some pharmacy businesses of choosing to act with impunity, to restrict patients’ access to NHS funded services is highly inflammatory. The truth of the matter is that all pharmacy businesses are reporting that they are struggling to find the registered professionals needed to open their pharmacies,” opines CCA.
It added: “Mark Koziol heard first hand from contractors of all sizes at the recent APPG inquiry, of the difficulties they are facing in finding pharmacists and technicians to allow them to open.”
“For him to deny what is plain to see is unbelievable and quite frankly insulting to all those frontline professionals who need the support that can only come from a co-ordinated approach to addressing workforce shortages across the whole of primary care.”
“We are extremely concerned that the PDA see fit to accuse large pharmacy operators of looking to misdirect healthcare systems into believing that the shortage of pharmacists being felt across the UK is a façade, being used to influence regulatory change.”
“This is categorically untrue. We believe that it is the PDA who are misleading government officials into believing that there is not a workforce crisis, in a vain attempt to continue to drive up the cost of providing healthcare across the UK.
It has been reported in the press that the NHS’s need to fund increased costs from within existing health budgets will mean having to release money from other planned frontline services.”
“We will continue to work with NHSE and DHSC to establish the facts about the scale of the workforce crisis across the UK and to find ways to make sure that the needs of all parts of primary care can be met, both in the short and longer term.”
PDA chair Koizol, who wrote the letter, went on to allege that many of those closure were “being orchestrated”.
He wrote that the “pharmacist shortage” narrative cited as a reason for these closures was “very different” from “the reality experienced by our members”, including both employed and locum pharmacists.
“We have evidence to show that these closures are being announced up to four weeks in advance.”