Community pharmacy’s national representative bodies, along with the four largest pharmacy chains in England, have jointly written to the Secretary of State for Health, Rt Hon Steve Barclay MP, warning that the sector needs urgent investment.
The letter says that the Government is facing a choice over the future of the country’s 11,000+ community pharmacies, with permanent closures likely and medicines supply at risk if no urgent action is taken.
Community pharmacy has ambitions to help support the wider NHS and patients, including through a fully funded Pharmacy First service, the letter from AIM, CCA, NPA, PSNC, Boots UK, LloydsPharmacy, Well, and Phoenix UK, says.
But it warns that the 30% real terms funding cuts that pharmacies have faced over the past seven years have left many businesses in a cashflow crisis. Urgent investment is now needed to help the sector to re-build capacity and sustainability.
If the funding situation is not addressed, the sector is likely to move rapidly towards many permanent closures of pharmacies. The organisations say that once these closures start, they will be hard to stop, as the sector is now so fragile other pharmacies would struggle to pick up the slack.
On the other hand, if the Secretary of State chooses to invest in community pharmacies, they can do much to deliver cost-effective solutions for patients and the NHS more widely.
Malcolm Harrison, the Chief Executive of the CCA said:
“Immediate investment will allow community pharmacy to deliver for the NHS. Considering the challenges facing the NHS currently, community pharmacy represents a significant asset to the nation. The sector has the potential to reduce GP waiting times and hospital re-admissions. But the decision now lies with the Secretary of State, to unlock the true potential of community pharmacies. Not investing in the sector will mean the continued erosion of service, and ultimately the permanent closure of many more community pharmacies, which will add to the already pressurised health system.”
Read the letter to the Secretary of State below: