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Pharmacy should be viewed as an equal partner on ICBs – Peers agree with CPE

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Peers supported measures such as generic medicine substitution as a short-term means to ease some issues

Community Pharmacy England (CPE) highlighted the insufficient representation of pharmacists on Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) while briefing Peers about the severe challenges currently facing community pharmacies on Tuesday.

Peers in attendance agreed with CPE chief executive Janet Morrison that pharmacy should be viewed as an “equal partner” on ICBs.

NHS England Non-Executive Director Baroness Watkins, Liberal Democrat Frontbencher Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, former Opposition Chief Whip Lord Blencathra, and former Liberal Democrat Frontbencher Lord Scriven attended the meeting, chaired by former Pharmacy Minister Lord Hunt of Kings Heath.

Janet and Prakash Patel, community pharmacist and Committee member, briefed them on medicine supply issues, funding pressures, pharmacy workforce shortages, and the findings of the 2024 Pressures Survey.

She said: “The results of this year’s Pharmacy Pressures Survey are deeply worrying and show a sector in great distress. Pharmacies are doing everything they can to ensure patients continue to have access to services they rely on but urgent action is needed to avert disaster and to assure the sustainability of the sector.”

Attendees were informed that medicine supply issues are now a daily occurrence in pharmacies, with the overwhelming majority of pharmacy team members indicating that these shortages are putting patient health at risk.

Janet also highlighted the huge financial challenges facing pharmacy businesses, emphasising the critical need for a funding uplift.

Expressing concern at increasing instances of pharmacists dispensing medication at a loss, Peers supported measures such as generic medicine substitution as a short-term means to ease some issues.

Furthermore, the meeting discussed the need for strategic planning in government to utilise the potential of pharmacy, the competence of the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) and the impact of the NHS workforce plan on the sector.

Updating Peers on the Pharmacy First service, Janet emphasised the need for a greater awareness campaign from the government and NHS to ensure patients know how to access the service.

“We are very grateful to the Peers who joined us this morning. They clearly understood the immense value that community pharmacies bring to primary care, and also shared our concerns on the long-term sustainability of the sector. We look forward to taking forward a number of positive actions following this morning’s event,” Janet said.

Janet also outlined the Vision for Community Pharmacy if they have sufficient funding and support.

 

 

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