Community pharmacy must continue to fight together against “difficult times” in 2017, PSNC has urged.

Last year, the sector “pulled together like never before” against the government’s cuts to English pharmacy funding, PSNC’s CEO Sue Sharpe said in a New Years address today (3 January).

“During the difficult times in 2016 I was reminded of the quotation by Benjamin Franklin 240 years earlier: ‘We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately’. We managed it last year; let us continue to fight, together and united, this year,” she said.

Financial hardship will continue to “bite”

The sector will continue to feel the “bite” of “financial stringencies” for several years, along with the whole of the public sector, warned Sharpe.

“2017 will be another testing year for us all. We are working in an increasingly hostile environment,” she said.

Community pharmacy must work to ensure that the NHS takes on suggestions to develop services in the Murray report and a report it commissioned from PricewaterhouseCoopers last year, said Sharpe.

But Sharpe said pharmacists have a responsibility to become “important partners” in these decisions. “When some pharmacies do not get involved, commissioners can be reluctant to depend on the sector,” she warned.

Plans for the future

Last year, PSNC and the NPA launched separate legal challenges against the cuts after funding negotiations fell through “for the first time this century”, said Sharpe.

“The most productive relationships are collaborative and we must ensure that once the legal action is concluded, we build a strong basis for working with our NHS colleagues in the future. This will be a major policy objective for 2017,” she said.

“We are also reviewing our governance to ensure that PSNC has the structure that best equips it to promote and represent the sector,” she added.