The Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) and its members are acutely aware of the challenges facing the NHS and primary care following the pandemic, especially regarding workforce and the accessibility of GP appointments. We, therefore, welcome today’s Budget and Spending Review announcements to invest in the healthcare system.
However, today’s announcements make no mention of the community pharmacy sector which remains underfunded and underutilised.
Malcolm Harrison, CEO of the CCA said:
“Community pharmacy has played a key role in the Covid recovery, staying open for patients to access medicines and other essential healthcare services, as well as more recently ensuring people are able to get their Covid and flu vaccinations. With almost 90% of the population living under a 20-minute walk from community pharmacies, the sector is in a prime position to support the Government to fully level up access to healthcare services across the country.”
The community pharmacy sector can also alleviate pressures from the primary care system and contribute to the Government’s pledged amount of 50 million primary care appointments even further through several clinical services:
- The Community Pharmacist Consultation Service, which would free up GP capacity allowing them to refer patients with minor illnesses to a community pharmacy
- Independent Prescribing, of which a qualification is required to level up the entire workforce and can be utilised to deal with minor ailments in primary care
- Delivering a wider NHS vaccination programme including the continuing Covid booster and flu vaccines. Community pharmacy has already delivered 12 million Covid vaccinations. Moreover, community pharmacies have administered almost 2.9 million flu vaccines, smashing the 2020/21 flu vaccination record in just two months.
In recent years, the CCA have become increasingly concerned that the pharmacy profession is experiencing an acute workforce crisis and long-term planning is urgently needed to address this.
We are concerned that pharmacy businesses will not be able to provide access to vital medicines or to deliver the healthcare services that patients have become accustomed to during the Covid-19 pandemic nor will they alleviate pressures from other parts of the health system, unless fair and reasonable funding is agreed.