The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) chief executive has called for ‘more action' and funding from the Government to address factors piling pressure on community pharmacists.

In a video message yesterday, Janet Morrison acknowledged ‘this is one of the toughest periods’ pharmacies have faced as businesses, adding: ‘And I believe that it really does demand more action from the government to address the real issues you’re facing.’

The cocktail of pressures faced by community pharmacists include a ‘difficult global medicines market’, the challenges of procuring medicines within the drug tariff, a shortage of pharmacists and rising costs because of ‘soaring’ inflationary pressures, she said.

Ms Morrison continued: ‘I also know that you’re facing increasing demands from queues of patients who’ve really given up on going to their GP and returning to you for support and advice and I know you are not being fully paid for the service that you’re providing.’

She attributed the challenges to ‘a number of really serious factors’, including a fixed-rate five-year settlement which has declined in real terms.

In March, Ms Morrison told The Pharmacist that community pharmacy could ‘go backwards’ without additional funding, warning that the ending of services introduced during the pandemic ‘could really hurt the sector’.

In yesterday’s message, Ms Morrison said emergency Covid funding had previously masked the impact of the real-terms funding loss, but it is now ‘really starting to bite’. Broader economic issues and limited public funding across the board are also impacting pharmacies, she added.

Addressing pharmacy contractors - who Ms Morrison said had shared their concerns through letters, committee members and during visits - the PSNC CEO acknowledged the challenges of ‘not being able to pass on any of these costs to patients’ and ‘not being able to stop the pressures and demands on you or to deliver any further efficiencies’.

Ms Morrison also said that the PSNC had ‘put forward a very compelling and complete portfolio of evidence’ to the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England, showing the impact of pressures on pharmacy.

She added: ‘We are passing on that message very strongly and we will continue to do so with a new prime minister and with the new ministerial teams.’

In February, the PSNC began the process of negotiating the 2022/23 arrangements for pharmacy funding with the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and NHS Improvement.

However, it revealed in June that government approval for the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) had been delayed because of the reshuffle following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s resignation in July.

In the video, the PSNC chief executive also emphasised the potential of pharmacies to play a crucial front-line role in the delivery of patient care, arguing pharmacists ‘have the scope to be the answer’.

She continued: ‘We were the answer during Covid. We stepped up during the pandemic, we stayed open, we adapted. We supported all communities.

‘But we need more funding and more basis to be able to plan for the future to continue to deliver what are essential services in our communities and essential services for the nation’s health.’

Ms Morrison said that pharmacists should continue to share their experiences with PSNC to aid their campaigning work.