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‘Community pharmacies at risk of layoffs and service reductions without funding boost’, says NPA

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Suggests a 2.5 per cent of the NHS budget to restore community pharmacy funding 

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has raised concerns over the upcoming increase in the National Living Wage, saying it will make things even worse for local pharmacies already facing nearly a decade of cuts in real terms.

Scheduled to go up from £10.42 to £11.44 per hour starting April, the National Living Wage rise is expected to put a lot of financial pressure on many pharmacies.

The NPA says “it will cost them over £10,000 in salary bills, and for some, even more, without getting more from the NHS funds. and has asked the government to deal with the ongoing problem of underfunding for community pharmacies.

The association has warned that without additional funds, pharmacies could face staff layoffs or reduced services to cover the increased wages, calling for a “comprehensive new funding deal to prevent further closures of vital local services, which have been shutting at the rate of eight a week.”

Paul Rees, the NPA’s chief executive, emphasised the urgent need for a revamped funding arrangement that enables pharmacies to invest in their workforce and sustain essential services thereby averting further closures as up to three quarters of pharmacies are in experiencing losses.

Rees said, “the current pharmacy contract in England has tied us into years of flat funding, whilst costs have risen relentlessly, including wages. We need to restore community pharmacy funding to 2.5% of the NHS budget – the historical norm – to keep vital services going. ”

Echoing Rees’s sentiments, Olivier Picard, NPA’s vice-chair and owner of Newdays Pharmacy in Buckinghamshire, warned of potential repercussions, including increased closures and diminished services, unless accompanied by a corresponding rise in NHS funding.

“Dedicated pharmacy staff deserve a decent wage, but this increase represents yet another hike in costs for a sector which has lost more than £1.3bn in real terms over the past decade,” he said.

Picard further highlighted the wage increase as yet another financial burden for a sector already dealing with the effects of significant losses over the past decade and added that “each new, unfunded cost makes pharmacies more unsustainable.”

The National Living Wage, which started in 2016, sets the lowest hourly pay for people over 23 years old. But from April, even 21-year-olds will be able to get it for the first time, and younger workers will also see their pay go up a bit.

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