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Pharmacy representation in England could learn lessons from Wales

By Neil Trainis

PUBLISHED: April 19, 2017 | UPDATED: April 19, 2017

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Mandeep Mudhar, the director of marketing and professional development at Numark, has said community pharmacy representation in England could “learn some lessons” from Wales as the fortunes of the sector in the two countries diverge.

The Welsh government’s announcement that pharmacy funding will rise from £140.4 million to £144.3 million comes at a time when the budget in England is being slashed over two years, although the verdict of a judicial review of the government’s funding cut is expected to be delivered later this month.

Pharmacists and pharmacy leaders may well be casting envious glances across the border where community pharmacies in Wales, backed by Community Pharmacy Wales (CPW) which represents more than 700 pharmacy owners, are being supported to improve the nation’s health with an increase in government funding.

“The announcement that Welsh community pharmacy funding will rise to £144 million for 2017-18 is a real triumph. Not only is it heartening to see the commitment from the Welsh government to the future of community pharmacy in Wales, but also great that there is a commitment to working closely with CPW to make it a reality,” Mudhar (pictured) said.

“More reassuringly, there is positive intent to not follow the way of England by imposing cuts or looking to reduce pharmacy numbers, and that is testament to the strength of CPW in its negotiations with the Welsh government.

“There’s also the pledge to fund a national IT support programme, which will potentially be a game changer for community pharmacy in Wales and sets the standard for the rest of the UK.

“Community pharmacy in England could learn some lessons here – very simply, a unified pharmacy body speaking to government with a unified message to deliver the prosperity that community pharmacy sector needs to survive and thrive.”

Mudhar’s thinly-veiled critique of community pharmacy representation in England, which encompasses the National Pharmacy Association, PSNC, Royal Pharmaceutical Society and until recently Pharmacy Voice among others, was a timely reminder of its “many voices” as outlined by former health minister Alistair Burt in a speech during this year’s Sigma conference in Rio de Janeiro.

“I think pharmacy has got to be very clear about who speaks for it,” he said. “I was aware of different voices and although there are many different parts that come together in the pharmacy profession, it doesn’t help the process if ministers become aware of mixed views and it rather weakens the base for negotiations.”