Keith Ridge, chief pharmaceutical officer at NHS England, has revealed that community pharmacy is unlikely to receive the full £42m integration fund in time.

Speaking at the pharmacy integration event yesterday (16 November), Mr Ridge said that ‘we are not trying to undermine community pharmacy and want to maintain a vibrant, high-quality community pharmacy service’.

Daily struggle

Pharmacists are struggling to deliver patient-centred care and cope with the financial pressures, due to the Government’s funding cuts.

With delays in the Pharmacy Integration Fund (PhIF) delivery, it might be difficult to close the current finance and efficiency gaps.

Last year, Mr Ridge said that community pharmacy couldn’t progress due to ‘outdated working practices and an old-fashioned view’ of the role of pharmacist, seen as someone who only dispenses medicines rather than providing specialist advice to patients.

He said: ‘We want to work with the profession to change that and rather than increasing the burden on GPs the aim is to allow community pharmacists to take a greater NHS role in helping patients.’

The PhIF, supposed to be rolled out between 2016 and 2018, supports community pharmacy and pharmacists and integrate them within the NHS, by achieving medicine optimisation and improving patients’ health and wellbeing.

Sector’s anger

Many pharmacists took on Twitter to criticise Mr Ridge.

‘Real threat'

With more and more pharmacies treating people for common minor ailments, such as coughs, colds, stomach and skin problems, further investment is the key to support the sector and resolve cashflow problems.

Sue Sharpe, the Pharmacy Service Negotiating Committee (PSNC) chief executive officer, said: ‘We know many pharmacies are struggling to survive at present.

‘For some the problem is immediate cashflow which they may be able to resolve. For others the combination of funding cuts and reduced reimbursement prices may be unmanageable.

‘The threat to the community pharmacy network is becoming all too real. We have already seen some news of closures, and fear more will follow.’

Mr Ridge said he would soon provide more information about the fund.