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Community pharmacy bodies urge prime minister to resolve sector’s fund crisis

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The community pharmacy bodies, along with England’s largest pharmacy chains, have urged the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak to resolve fund and workforce crisis in the sector.

In the joint letter the Chief Executives of Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp), Company Chemists’ Association (CCA), National Pharmacy Association (NPA) and Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), along with Boots, Lloydspharmacy, Well and Rowlands Pharmacy, said they are pleased to see Government now recognising the key role that community pharmacy’ could have in alleviating the strain on other NHS services.

However, the associations also warn that although the sector is ready to support, ‘this will not be possible unless pharmacy is properly funded.’

Janet Morrison, PSNC Chief Executive, said: “The Prime Minister should also know that community pharmacies are also facing a crisis. They need sustainable investment, urgently, if we are to avoid devasting consequences for pharmacies and for their patients.”

The letter calls on Government to help pharmacy to resolve the funding, workforce and capacity issues engulfing the sector. It said: “Community pharmacies are in crisis and after 7 years of 30% funding cuts have reached their limit.”

Mark Lyonette, Chief Executive of NPA, said: “We are joining together as pharmacy leaders to make the investment case to Ministers, because the government needs to get the consistent message that everyone in community pharmacy is under intolerable pressure. If they continue to ignore our appeals for fair funding, they will be failing millions of people who rely on pharmacies for accessible healthcare, including many vulnerable older people.”

The representative bodies also stated that the pharmacy closure should be the major cause of concern and without the intervention of the Prime Minister the sector is moving towards large numbers of permanent pharmacy closures.

Malcolm Harrison, the Chief Executive of CCA, said: “The Community pharmacy sector faces an annual shortfall in funding of more than £750m. This is more than £67,000 per pharmacy – money that could be invested to provide vital patient-facing care for the NHS.

With sustainable investment, community pharmacy is capable to transforming the NHS by freeing up millions of GP appointments, providing easy access to urgent care and reducing hospital re-admissions.

A fully funded Pharmacy First scheme, will bring much needed investment into the sector and help build resilience and capacity into primary care. Alongside this, the sector needs an immediate and recurrent uplift in funding to reflect the increasing workload pharmacy teams are taking on.

But the decision is now in the hands of the Prime Minister to reverse the trend of permanent pharmacy closures by properly funding pharmacies.”

The collective of pharmacy organisations said that they still strongly believe community pharmacy can help support the wider NHS and patients. This should include freeing up millions of GP appointments and providing easy access to urgent care and healthcare advice through a fully funded ‘Pharmacy First’ service. A wider role for community pharmacy is also possible in supporting medicines optimisation, prevention, tackling health inequalities, managing long-term conditions, and so much more.

But the authors are clear that unless the plans for community pharmacy include steps to put the sector back on a sustainable footing, pharmacy won’t reach its full potential in helping with the Government’s goals for the health service.

A continual squeezing of the sector’s funding will soon lead to serious consequences for patients, the letter warns.

Dr Leyla Hannbeck CEO of AIMp said: “Community pharmacy is at its most difficult period. More pharmacies have been closing and with that the public are left without accessible pharmaceutical services. When will the government and the Prime Minister himself, who prides himself on being the son of a pharmacist, recognise the great value our sector brings to the healthcare system and patient care and fund pharmacies appropriately.”

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