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#Fight4Pharmacy Campaign Launched: Independent multiple pharmacies rally against closure crisis

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As closures surge, community pharmacies are feeling overwhelmed”, “tired” and “exhausted” by patient influx amidst frontline healthcare funding crisis.

The demonstration, Fight4Pharmacies campaign launched by the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp), saw pharmacists calling on the government to invest in community pharmacy as the sector grapples with shortage of drug supplies and funding issues.

The rise in pharmacies closing their doors, coupled with the launch of Pharmacy First services, has led to patients’ influx at independent pharmacies causing overwhelm and exhaustion for the healthcare professionals.

Max Punni, an independent pharmacist who attended the demonstration on Wednesday, told the BBC that frontline staff are “tired, overwhelmed”, and remarked, “It’s hard to believe the government isn’t aware of the real situation on the frontline.”

He described the typical day as a relentless cycle of queues of patients demanding additional services, which he feels have been unfairly thrust upon them.

AIMp revealed that the previous five-year funding agreement failed to keep pace with inflation, resulting in a year-on-year real-term funding cut and the current £1.2 billion shortfall.

Moreover, over 400 local chemists have shut their doors leading to a staggering 2.5 million additional GP appointments, increasing the pressure on already overstretched GP surgeries as well as community pharmacists who are observing patients being guided to them instead of their GPs.

Maziar Moaddabi, proprietor of a pharmacy in Norwich, expressed frustration over the NHS’s incomplete coverage of 14 medications last month and highlighted that bulk buying has become difficult due to shortage of supplies and the inability of the NHS to match the cost of drugs.

He explained that he stepped in to cover the costs of certain medications, totaling £1,500, because patients at Vauxhall Street Pharmacy heavily depended on him.

“When I first started 10 years ago I, like many pharmacists, could expect a salary of between £80,000 and £100,000. Now I can’t take one at all,” he told the BBC. 

AIMp CEO Dr. Leyla Hannbeck highlighted chronic underfunding, medicine supply challenges, and a flawed reimbursement system as causes for the surge in pharmacy closures at a recent meeting with pharmacy minister Andrea Leadsom, who stated no funds were available for community pharmacies.

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