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20 MPs call on Health Minister to support community pharmacies in a joint letter

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The group acknowledged that around 1,400 pharmacies have closed permanently since October 2016 due to mounting pressures

A group of 20 MPs from the different political parties, including Dame Priti Patel and Judith Cummins, have written a joint letter to health minister Andrea Leadsom, calling for urgent action to address the pressures faced by community pharmacies.

Taking note of rising pharmacy closures, they have highlighted the need for more investment and support from the government.

Recent NHS figures showed that around 1,400 pharmacies have closed permanently since October 2016, and many more are withdrawing services or reducing their opening hours, particularly in deprived areas.

The MPs have urged the pharmacy minister to commit to making essential changes including a fair and sustainable core funding model, an effective implementation of the Pharmacy First service and an expansion into other clinical service areas.

Community Pharmacy England (CPE) coordinated the letter with Labour MP Judith Cummins after hosting their recent pharmacy winter pressures event in Parliament.

Cummins said: “Community pharmacies are more than just a place to get medicines. They are pillars of the community offering important face-to-face services like vaccines and a wide range of other healthcare advice.

“The vital work of local pharmacies reduces pressure on our over-stretched NHS and GP services.”

However, they are having to do more with less as funding has dropped 30 per cent in real terms since 2015, she added.

CPE Chief Executive Janet Morrison said pharmacies are facing financial pressures, staff shortages, closures, and escalating costs.

“The financial pressures on pharmacies are extreme, and show no signs of improving,” she noted.

Janet also raised concern about the financial impact of the increase in the National Living Wage (NLW) for 2024.

“The announcement of a 9.8 per cent increase will weigh heavily on pharmacy businesses, and we estimate that the additional cost to the community pharmacy sector of implementing this uplift is between £150m – £195m.

“This will be on top of the 30 per cent reduction in funding the sector has experienced so far. It’s just not sustainable to expect pharmacies to absorb these additional costs. A failure to act to correct some of this will see many more pharmacies closing through 2024,” she added.

 

 

 

 

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