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Lake District pharmacy grapples with medicine shortages amidst growing crisis

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79% of pharmacists fear for patient health according to Community Pharmacy England report

A Lake District pharmacy is grappling with significant medication supply issues, affecting its ability to provide essential drugs to customers amidst nationwide drug shortages.

According to Simon Butterworth, whose family has operated Collins & Butterworth Pharmacy in Hawkshead for nearly 40 years, voiced his concerns to the ITV stating that the staff is “having to spend time hunting for (medications), looking for it or doing our best to find ways to solve that problem” for distressed patients.

“They’ve got to know when they can get the medications they need,” he added.

Butterworth also highlighted the financial strain pharmacies face due to the NHS’s fixed tariff system.

“Certain items are actually costing more to buy than we get paid for them by the NHS. An item we were trying to get this morning was 250 per cent higher than the tariff price, which is significant and builds up over lots of items,” he explained.

This situation reflects a broader crisis highlighted by a recent report from Community Pharmacy England (CPE), which found that 79 per cent of surveyed pharmacists believe “patient health is being put at risk due to medicine supply issues.”

The National Pharmacy Agency (NPA) in a recent report highlighted that around ten pharmacies close each week, adding pressure on already overstretched GPs.

Moreover, Paul Rees, CEO of the NPA, condemned the commonplace nature of medicine shortages, calling it “totally unacceptable.”

Pharmacists, he lamented, are left to navigate complex supply issues, often turning patients away due to stock unavailability.

CPE has warned that without intervention, these pressures could lead to even more closures.

Mubasher Ali, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy Lancashire and South Cumbria told the ITV the urgency of addressing these funding issues:

“We need to make it more feasible for pharmacies. We’ve got to sort out this funding, it’s absolutely crucial to us.”

A Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) spokesperson responded to these concerns, stating:

“There are around 14,000 licensed medicines and the overwhelming majority are in good supply. Supply issues can arise for a wide range of reasons and are not specific to the UK.

“Our priority is to mitigate risks posed by those issues and to help ensure that patients continue to get the treatments they need. Thankfully most issues can be managed with minimal impact to patients.”

The spokesperson also emphasised the government’s support for pharmacies:

“We recognise the vital role pharmacies play in our healthcare system and that’s why they are backed by £2.6 billion a year in government funding.”

Despite this funding, the ongoing supply issues underscore a critical need for further action to ensure that pharmacies like Collins & Butterworth can continue to serve their communities effectively.

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