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Pharmacies forced to subsidise NHS medicines: NPA hands £108m invoice to DHSC

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The NPA calls for a new deal that reverses “historical funding cuts and gives the sector the respect it deserves”

In a decisive move highlighting the financial strain faced by community pharmacies, the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) submitted a £108 million invoice to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) today (16 May).

According to the NPA, this substantial sum represents the amount that pharmacies in England personally covered for the dispensing of NHS medicines last month, as a result of inadequate funding.

“The £108m figure is an average monthly figure based on the loss to pharmacy incomes over the past decade,” it said.

The association believes that mass closures can be prevented only when the government stops expecting pharmacies to subsidise the cost of delivering NHS care.

NPA chief executive Paul Rees, said: “The soaring costs of dispensing medicine coupled with declining real terms funding has led to community pharmacies in England having to subsidise the dispensing of drugs to the tune of £108m a month.

“Which other clinicians would be expected to pay the state in order to deliver NHS services? This is profoundly shocking and wrong.

“As a result of this perverse situation, the government now owes our pharmacies a massive £108m a month.”

He added that due to insufficient government funding, pharmacies are now compelled to cover the costs of the nation’s medicines from their own pockets.

The NPA called for a new deal that reverses “historical funding cuts and give the sector the respect it deserves” to enable pharmacies to continue to be able to deliver the vital services.

An online tool has been launched to help NPA members calculate the amount owed for their pharmacy’s NHS services in April.  It also empowers pharmacy owners to join the protest by sending their own ‘invoices’ to the DHSC.

Recent analysis conducted by the NPA revealed that community pharmacy closures in England have reached a record high, with the number of pharmacies closing their doors this year nearly 50 per cent higher compared to the same period in 2023.

From January to April 2024, there were 177 pharmacy closures, compared to 116 during the same period in 2023. This is the equivalent to 10 local pharmacies closing their doors every week, the NPA said.

 

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