Leyla Hannbeck

The Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) has called for a “new understanding” between the NHS and England’s community pharmacies to avert further pharmacy closures and rejuvenate the whole sector.

Leyla Hannbeck, AIMp chief executive, said the pharmacies see themselves as “under-valued and unloved” despite proving their worth during the pandemic.

“Yet sadly, pharmacies are closing. They don’t feel respected – not by the public, but by some health authorities and NHS executives,” she said in a statement.

Speaking to The Mail on Sunday, she added that a “snobbish attitude” among some in the NHS saw pharmacists “perceived incorrectly as businesspeople first and healthcare providers second”, while the regard in which they were held was “lower than clinical practitioners and GPs.”

In the statement, Hannbeck also urged pharmacies to take a “long and hard look at themselves, their offering and appearance,” adding that the sector has not helped itself in the past.

“This should be done in conjunction with a new deal, a new relationship with community pharmacy. We need to use the pandemic and the review of healthcare that is now underway, as an opportunity to repair relations, to place community pharmacies at the forefront of our health system.”

Noting that pharmacies could be doing more vaccinating now against Covid-19, she suggested the government need to immediately address the issue of £370 million extra costs incurred in combating the pandemic.

Longer-term, there must be “greater clarity and consistency in the referral of patients from NHS111 and GPs to community pharmacies,” he said.

“We’re able to participate more fully in the roll-out of new medicines and therapies. Rather than being on the periphery of discussions concerning the various medicine distribution models we should be fully consulted, exploiting our know-how.”

She added that a “new understanding” is required  and that must be a redrawn contract, “a new financial framework – one that we can work with, without having to complain and fight for, and one, equally, that all the NHS is happy to apply.”

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