Eighty-five per cent of adults responding to a survey commissioned by the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) have agreed that community pharmacies are underfunded and that the sector needs more investment to be able to do the work it does.

The survey of 1,000+ adults in England was carried out online between August 26 and 30 by an agency called Research Without Barriers (RWB) on behalf of the NPA.

Pharmacies in England are now paid less for providing NHS services than they were before the Covid-19 pandemic, after years of real terms cuts.

Seventy-four per cent respondents think it’s unfair that community pharmacies in England have had no increase in funding for eight years, despite rising business costs.

When asked whether it’s fair or unfair that pharmacies in England are now paid less for providing NHS services than they were before the pandemic, 81 per cent of people replied that it’s unfair.

Eighty-one per cent think it’s unfair that pharmacies are sometimes paid less by the NHS for prescription medicines than the cost at which they buy them.

Eighty-five per cent would support more investment in local pharmacies, if it helps to improve access to NHS services.

Andrew Lane, chair of the National Pharmacy Association, said: “The public, with its collective sense of fair play, can see there is no natural justice in the current funding arrangements, which are strangling pharmacy finances and threaten thousands of family-owned businesses with closure.

“It’s not just the overall under-investment that is the problem, although that by itself is crippling. Contractual mechanisms based on averages and reconciled retrospectively make effective planning difficult and especially disadvantage smaller pharmacy businesses. The system is inherently unfair and needs urgent reform.”

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