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AIMP warns of ‘tsunami of further pharmacy closures’

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Fight4Pharmacies campaign launched, calling on the government to invest in community pharmacy.

The Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) has raised concerns over the mounting pressure faced by general practitioners (GPs) in England due to the loss of community pharmacies.

According to the organisation, more than 400 local chemists have closed in five years, leading to 2.5 million more GP appointments and exacerbating the strain on already stretched GP surgeries.

AIMp CEO Dr Leyla Hannbeck pointed to a combination of “chronic underfunding, medicine supply challenges and a dysfunctional reimbursement system” as the catalyst behind the alarming surge in pharmacy closures.

She warned that if this trend persists, it could trigger a “tsunami of further pharmacy closures” across the country, as quoted by The Mirror.

Additionally, Dr. Leyla highlighted that the sector is grappling with a £1.2 billion funding deficit, resulting in pharmacies “falling into debt” and uncertainty about their sustainability.

According to AIMP, the previous five-year funding agreement (set in 2019 at £2.6 billion annually) failed to consider inflation. Consequently, this has resulted in a year-on-year real-term funding cut, leading to a £1.2 billion shortfall.

On Wednesday, AIMp launched its Fight4Pharmacies campaign, calling on the government to invest in community pharmacy.

‘No funds available to fund community pharmacies’

During a recent meeting with pharmacy minister Andrea Leadsom, Dr Hannbeck and AIMp board member Has Modi discussed the current challenges in the sector and offered solutions on how the community pharmacy network could support the NHS.

They highlighted to the minister that pharmacies could play a vital role in the prevention agenda and management of long-term conditions, but the current funding shortfall has left has left numerous pharmacies grappling to stay afloat.

Additionally, the minister was informed that the sector “is consistently seeing medicines prices go up and pharmacies are left out of pocket because the concessions are not granted on time and the system is flawed.”

However, Leadsom responded that “there are no funds available to fund community pharmacies”.

Referring to reports received by the government indicating that pharmacies like Boots and other large multiples are “making money,” she suggested that independents should also “strive to increase their retail offering and provide more private services.”

AIMp then outlined to the minister that “not all pharmacies can be compared to Boots.” They elaborated that over 90 per cent of the activities in independent pharmacies are NHS activities and many of these chemists are based in “areas of deprivation and health and inequality where the public cannot pay for private services or goods and expect NHS to cover the costs.”

However, the minister acknowledged that the price fluctuations have left contractors out of pocket and that this needs to be addressed on priority.

 

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