The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has asked NHS England to stop directing more patients to community pharmacies until extra funding is injected in the sector.
“Any new or expanded services or Pharmacy Quality Scheme in 2023/24 must not be roll out by NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) unless extra funding is put into community pharmacies, the PSNC has told Ministers.
It also suggested that the DHSC should consider putting caps on existing Advanced Services to protect core dispensing funding.
The committee has stressed again that without an urgent injection of extra funding there is not enough money to pay for the current services and dispensing being done by the sector; let alone for new things to be rolled out.
It has urged: “Instead, the focus needs to be on supporting community pharmacies to meet the day-to-day needs of patients and on building on the advice that we already offer to the public via a fully-funded Pharmacy First scheme.”
“If they do not put additional funding into pharmacies they will be presiding over the collapse of the community pharmacy sector and of safe medicines supply,” warned PSNC.
“In addition to extra funding, they must make good their commitments to supporting efficiencies within the sector and make progress on regulatory easements that would allow greater flexibility to all pharmacy owners, reducing bureaucracy and costs.”
The committee told Ministers that they need to decide what sort of community pharmacy network they want: businesses are failing and this will imminently put medicines supply at risk.
It is continuing to argue that a fully-funded Pharmacy First service would be a good route to get additional funding into the sector quickly, while also delivering on Government’s ambitions and supporting patients and its wider primary care colleagues.
“We are pressing hard to ensure that this is included in the Government’s upcoming Primary Care Recovery Plan. Without this or another funding lifeline, they can expect further primary care crises ahead as pharmacy businesses continue to fail.”
Janet Morrison, PSNC Chief Executive, said: “Our position is very clear: pharmacy businesses are on the brink of collapse so it makes no sense whatsoever to add any further services or requirements for 2023/24 without additional funding. The Government simply has not put enough money into the contract and there isn’t the capacity within the sector to deliver them.”
“The question Ministers now face about the investment needed to deliver Pharmacy First is not whether they can afford it, but whether they can afford not to do it.
Morrison has once again warned Ministers about how desperate things have become. She informed them that many businesses are now operating at a loss, struggling with drug pricing, staffing, increasing public demand and staying open.
She said: “We are struggling to keep our lights on and urgently need investment. DHSC and NHSE need to decide what sort of a pharmacy sector they want in the future: do they want to build on our success during the pandemic and deliver the Prime Minister’s vision for a community pharmacy sector playing a greater role in primary care, or do they want to preside over the decimation of the sector as we know it?
“And we have today told DHSC and NHSE that they must pause the rollout of new services, including the much-anticipated contraception service, and 2023/24 Pharmacy Quality Scheme because we don’t believe pharmacy owners have the capacity under current conditions to properly undertake this work.
Government and the NHS have all the evidence they need to show them that without urgent action they – and the public – will lose significant parts of the community pharmacy sector, and soon. This would be catastrophic for pharmacy, patients and for primary care and we are doing everything within our power to prevent it from happening.”