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As pharmacists in England spit blood over cuts…Wales delights in funding package

By Neil Trainis

PUBLISHED: April 18, 2017 | UPDATED: April 18, 2017

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As community pharmacists in England continue to spit blood over swingeing cuts to their funding, the mood of their counterparts in Wales is in stark contrast following the decision of the Welsh government to invest £144.3 million in the sector.

The funding for 2017-18 was greeted enthusiastically by Community Pharmacy Wales (CPW) who said it was “delighted” by the announcement, even though the Welsh government confirmed to Pharmacy Business that the latest package was not a significant increase on last year’s £140.4 million. Funding, it said, had largely been “maintained at the same level as last year.”

“Funding announced (on April 10) will improve access to services provided by community pharmacies such as the common ailment service and pharmacy influenza vaccinations, it will also support the implementation of a pharmacy quality programme and support collaborative working between pharmacies and other primary care providers,” the Welsh government said.

The Welsh health secretary Vaughan Gething said: “Last year, I reaffirmed the Welsh government’s commitment to the community pharmacy sector as a fundamental part of a strong primary care service in Wales.

“At a time when thousands of community pharmacies in England face closure as a result of funding cuts of over 7%, I said there were no proposals to reduce investment in community pharmacy here in Wales. (This) announcement shows we’ve been true to our promise.”

Pharmacist Phil Parry, who chairs the board of CPW, which represents over 700 pharmacy owners in Wales, said: “We are delighted that the Welsh government is continuing to work collaboratively with us as a profession to maximise the opportunities to modernise and utilise the pharmacy network in Wales at the same time as funding is being cut in England.”

The Welsh government also said it will fund the Choose Pharmacy IT system in 2018-19 and 2019-20, giving all pharmacies in Wales access to the application.

“Choose Pharmacy will support pharmacists to deliver an increasing range of patient-focused clinical services. Our common ailment scheme allows people with minor ailments to see highly-skilled pharmacists for advice and treatment, freeing up GPs’ time to focus on those people with more complex cases and reduce patient waiting times,” Gething said.

“Choose Pharmacy will also give pharmacists access to patients’ summary medical records which will significantly reduce the number of people who need to be referred to GP, out-of-hours services and A&E departments and will deliver considerable improvements in patient safety.

“I’m delighted we’ve been able to make the Choose Pharmacy IT application available to all pharmacies in Wales. This agreement is a further example of how our collaborative approach is can make a real difference for people in Wales.”