The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has blasted the government for failing to consider alternative proposals to the £170m cuts and its “unshaken determination” to axe 6% off the budget.
The full PSNC committee met in Durham to review the outcome of discussions to date and consider its next steps.
It has since said the Department of Health (DH) has “little interest” in following up the suggestions made for national commissioning of services that could provide the efficiencies requested without cutting direct funding to pharmacies.
The news comes just days after pharmacy minister, Alistair Burt MP, admitted there is no way of knowing what the effect of the swingeing measures will be on pharmacy premises.
PSNC has advised pharmacists contractors to make “whatever provisions they can” to prepare for the budget reduction, scheduled to start in October.
Peter Cattee, chair of PSNC’s funding and contract subcommittee and CEO of PCT Healthcare, said: “In our meetings with the DH and NHS England it has become clear that they have little interest in commissioning additional national community pharmacy services or in our constructive proposals to make better use of community pharmacy to help the NHS make savings.
“The government appear unshaken in their determination to remove a sum of £170m from community pharmacy funding this year, and do so via reductions in fees and allowances.”
He added PSNC is “extremely concerned” and is continuing to work with other pharmacy organisations to persuade the government of the value of community pharmacy.
Additionally, DH is seeking to claw back cash from an over-delivery of margin in 2015/16 through changes to the Drug Tariff.
“Combined with the determination to remove £170m from community pharmacy in October, this financial year will be very difficult for the sector,” Cattee said.
“We are very pessimistic about the outcome of the consultation on community pharmacy’s future.
“We are also very concerned that the NHS and government have not been clear about their aims, for example on hub and spoke dispensing and the community pharmacy access scheme.”