Andrew Lane. (Photo: Graphic Photo)

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has commissioned global consultancy firm Ernst & Young to conduct an economic impact assessment of the community pharmacy funding and policy framework in England.

EY’s expert team will assess the robustness of the pharmacy market and consider how far restricted funding and the broader economic environment may impact on efforts to achieve NHS objectives.

The team will conduct literature searches, interviews with stakeholders and a comprehensive survey of NPA members that highlight current pressure points and the impact of foreseeable changes in funding and costs.

EY will also explore what all this means for GPs, hospitals patients and wider society.

Speaking at the Sigma Pharmaceutical conference on Tuesday, the NPA’s Acting Chairman, Andrew Lane, said: “It’s the NPA’s duty, as the voice of independent community pharmacy, to speak out passionately but also factually. Therefore, we have secured the expert services of EY to deliver a detailed financial and operational analysis of the current and future position for independent pharmacies.”

The Association expects to receive telling evidence about the capacity of the pharmacy sector to deliver on NHS objectives, in the context of current flat funding.

“Ministers and NHS officials say they want community pharmacies to be the first port of call for common illnesses, to help people stay well, to take on more clinical services and to relieve pressure on other parts of the system. This can only be achieved on a sustainable basis if resources match the level of ambition. Therefore, we hope they will welcome this economic study as a serious contribution to the evidence base that underpins the development of health & social care policy,” Lane said.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) offered all possible support for the initiative.

PSNC Chief Executive Simon Dukes commented: “This is a really useful initiative from the NPA. We will be supporting the review team in whatever ways we can, and their final report will provide a useful evidence base for us to use in the CPCF annual review process. We expected those discussions with the government to be very much focused on contractors’ costs and capacity this year.”

The final report is expected to be ready by June so that it can be made available to PSNC, the NHS and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) when they undertake the first annual review of funding under the five-year contractual settlement.

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