Every community pharmacy will be needed to deal with the impact of long Covid and any ongoing vaccination requirements, PSNC’s chief executive has warned.
Reflecting on the 200 pharmacy closures during the pandemic in a video message to contractors (19 February), Simon Dukes said ministers needed to understand that closures are ‘a real and growing concern to both the NHS and patients’.
This comes after over 600 pharmacies have reportedly closed since 2016, including over 200 last year, despite the advanced payment of £370 million from the Government to temporarily cover additional costs of Covid.
‘Over the next 12 months we will need to deal with the impacts of long Covid, we will need to deal with health inequalities, we will need to deal with an ongoing Covid vaccination requirement, we will need every community pharmacy,’ Mr Dukes said.
He also highlighted the fact that over 30% of pharmacy closures happened in the most deprived areas of England.
Mr Dukes said: ‘What the Department of Health and Social care will say is that there were more pharmacies in those areas in the first place so losing a few probably won’t matter, government spend on pharmaceutical services in deprived areas is greater in non deprived areas, and that not many pharmacies in the Pharmacy Access Scheme (PhAS) are not closed.’
However, ‘there are greater health needs in [areas of greater deprivation] which is why you need more pharmacies in the first place,’ he added.
Mr Dukes also pointed out that ‘any’ PhAS pharmacy closure would be ‘unacceptable’, as the scheme was only launched to support those pharmacies where patient and public access would be significantly affected should they close.
Last week, PSNC warned that the Government and NHS England were ‘failing in their duty’ to protect the pharmacy sector financially.
In an update on funding negotiations, Mr Dukes said its request for the Government to write-off the sector’s £370m Covid debt – made after rejecting an initial funding offer from DHSC – had again been met with ‘little movement’ from the Treasury.