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Whithorn Pharmacy joins #SaveOurPharmacies day of action amid NHS funding crisis

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“Pharmacy is on its knees,” Keith McElrea, owner of Whithorn Pharmacy warned underscoring ongoing financial challenges in Scottish community pharmacies.

“Not improving our funding is not an option, if they want to continue to deliver anything like the level of patient care we have done in recent years,” he emphasised as he prepares for the NPA’S Save Our Pharmacies Day of Action (June 20).

Over the past two years, McElrea has navigated crises stemming from NHS Scotland policies, particularly concerning medicines price inflation and delayed payments.

“The cost of medicines increased rapidly compared to inflation,” McElrea stated, noting NHS Scotland‘s slow response in adjusting tariff prices.

“This wiped out £50,000 of cash reserves and forced us into £30,000 of additional borrowings.”

Delayed payments further strained operations, with McElrea highlighting the impact of payments based on outdated pricing.

“NHS Scotland’s actions brought community pharmacy to its knees,” he said, mentioning emergency cash advances issued as a temporary measure.

Last year’s funding settlement exacerbated tensions, McElrea noted, with an initial offer of only a 1 per cent uplift during high inflation.

“By any measure, a real terms cut of between 5 and 10 per cent,” he remarked critically.

McElrea detailed operational disruptions caused by outdated payment systems and abrupt reclaiming of overpayments, affecting year-end finances.

Expressing concern over NHS Scotland’s handling of pharmacy contractors, McElrea said that they are not NHS subsidiaries but “are small family businesses”.

“If our banks run out of patience and stop supporting the sector, it’ll they start to see it as a less safe bet, (which means) we stop being able to support dozens of jobs in our local communities and provide vital healthcare services in the most accessible form available to patiens,” he asserted.

Whithorn Pharmacy; nhs scotland; save our pharmacies; npa; day of action; june 20th
Whithorn Pharmacy joins the #SaveOurPharmacy campaign to advocate for better support and sustainability for community pharmacies.”

With the Save Our Pharmacies Day of Action approaching, McElrea is mobilizing support through social media and local advocacy.

McElrea urged policymakers to prioritize sustainable funding, calling for a 12 to 15 per cent  minimum funding uplift and safeguards against future financial instability.

“I believe their needs to be a locking mechanism to protect community pharmacy from every having to pay over the median price for a medicine, and I believe that there needs to be a future protection against consistent inflation built in, as the three month payment lag clearly deeply added to what was already a funding crises,” he said.

The Save Our Pharmacies Day of Action aims to draw attention to critical challenges facing community pharmacies across the UK, as owners and staff unite to advocate for equitable funding and support.

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