Community pharmacy is a ‘safety net’ for the healthcare system and therefore must be protected, Community Pharmacy England (CPE) chief executive Janet Morrison has said.

And she called for contractors and pharmacy teams to share their views in CPE’s Pharmacy Pressures Survey to ‘arm’ the negotiator in its conversations with decision-makers.

‘While we know that the entire healthcare system, and indeed all public services, are under a lot of pressure, nowhere is this more true than in community pharmacy which continues to provide a safety net as access to wider primary care falters,’ Ms Morrison said in a statement published this week.

‘That safety net must be protected – with sustainable core funding and wider support – and your views will help us to keep making that clear to all those who influence public policy.’

Ms Morrison called on contractors and pharmacy teams to complete the negotiator’s latest Pharmacy Pressures Survey, which opened on Monday.

‘I know that another survey will not immediately help to alleviate the issues you are facing, but going in to speak to ministers, the NHS, and wider advocates armed with your evidence and experiences helps us to build on that powerful case for the future,’ she added.

CPE has released two surveys: one for pharmacy business owners and head office representatives that covers ‘the pressures being experienced by businesses’ and ‘the overall running of the pharmacy business including financial and staffing pressures’; and one survey for pharmacy staff members, covering ‘the day-to-day pressures being experienced by pharmacy teams including supply chain issues, patient interactions/experience and staff morale’.

Similar surveys conducted last year found that 96% of the 900 pharmacy owners that responded said they were facing significantly higher costs than the previous year - with 73% reporting they did not know how much longer the threats to their businesses could be managed and 16% saying they did not believe they would ‘survive another year’.

And of the over 2,000 pharmacy team members who responded in 2023, 76% reported staff shortages, 81% said they were struggling to cope due to workload pressures, and 78% reported their work was having a negative impact on their mental health.