A parliamentary pharmacy advocacy group has urged the Government to deliver fairer funding for local pharmacies to prevent widespread closures.
The letter sent by the All-Party Pharmacy Group (APPG) to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak, and health secretary Matt Hancock, calls on both MPs to work to ease mounting financial pressures on vital pharmacy services as part of the wider NHS funding settlement.
It said that ‘pharmacies adapted, innovated and stretched themselves to the limit to keep their doors open throughout the pandemic’, but also warned that ‘this has not come without cost’.
Commenting on the letter, Jackie Doyle-Price, the APPG chair, said that the Government and NHS leaders should go beyond their ‘warm words’ and instead ‘deliver fairer funding for our pharmacies’.
‘Only with a more sustainable financial footing can we unlock the potential demonstrated by pharmacy teams to contribute even more,’ she said.
‘Our local pharmacies responded heroically to the challenges of the pandemic, keeping their doors open to patients throughout and maintaining access to medicines and face-to-face healthcare advice.’
Ms Doyle-Price added: ‘We owe pharmacies a debt of gratitude. Yet, the huge financial pressures they face could force many to close their doors for good.’
The letter went on to highlight a recent audit conducted by PSNC, which suggested that pharmacy advice prevents almost half a million GP appointments each week. It also showed that A&E services couldsee 57,000 more appointments per week if pharmacies did not provide this free advice to their patients.
The letter also referred to an analysis conducted by Ernest and Young, which concluded that under current funding measures, nearly three quarters of community pharmacies in England will be in deficit by 2024.
The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) announced in April that negotiations on the arrangements for the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) in 2021/22 had started, after they were initially delayed due to the ‘high volume of urgent Covid-19 work, which has been prioritised by HM Government’.
Simon Dukes, PSNC chief executive, said at the time that it was ‘unlikely’ that any final decisions would be made on the CPCF until the body has ‘clarity’ on additional pharmacy funding related to Covid costs.