By Chief Executive Janet Morrison

One of my first tasks on becoming PSNC Chief Executive last year was to read the results of the 2022 Pharmacy Pressures Survey. I said at the time that these made for distressing reading, and I warned Government and the NHS that they needed to urgently step up the support for pharmacy.

One year – and countless new Ministers – later, and I know that this year’s results are going to be far worse. We are hearing from pharmacy owners in increasingly desperate situations, and the financial figures tell us why – no business could be expected to survive 30% real terms funding cuts while their activity and workload demands, as well as their costs, soar, and in the face of unprecedented workforce challenges. Pharmacy businesses are being crippled. Contractors and their teams are suffering intolerable pressures. And patients are also feeling the impact.

We have been saying all of this to Ministers – right the way up to the Prime Minister – and NHS leaders for many months, and we’ll continue to do so until we see some action from them. We also need clear action from NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to show that they understand the crisis we are facing. NHS England proposals to ease regulations for contractors were considered by PSNC to be very disappointing when it met recently. We similarly rejected DHSC’s price concessions suggestions as simply not enough. While DHSC and NHS tinker with piecemeal policy proposals, pharmacies are drowning.

I have said all of this and more to Government and the NHS this week. Their combined current approach is driving pharmacy contractors out of business in an unmanaged and incoherent way. I have told them that if this continues, it will damage the safety and continuity of medicine supply irreparably. Without urgent and more meaningful action they will be presiding over a rapidly declining pharmacy service in England, most likely eventually leading to the collapse of the medicines supply chain as we know it and unprecedented additional pressures on the NHS.

If they choose not to heed these warnings and we continue down the current path, by the end of the 5-year CPCF agreement next April, the 30% real term cuts will have delivered a clear outcome: a decimated pharmacy sector. The 5-year CPCF will have been a failed experiment in testing the transition towards clinical service delivery with far-reaching consequences, not least for high streets, and for GPs and A&E departments who will have to handle the 65 million people who currently seek advice from pharmacies every year.

They simply cannot continue down this path.

At PSNC we are doing everything in our power to deter them from it. They have all the evidence and analysis of the situation that they need. Our wide-ranging lobbying work is building Parliamentary support for the sector and for a fully-funded Pharmacy First service, while the #SaveOurPharmacies campaign will soon be gathering even greater public support for pharmacy. And all the while we are continuing to present workable options for the way ahead that would both offer some immediate relief for pharmacy AND solve some of Ministers’ other problems. I hope to have better news to report soon.

The post Chief Executive’s Blog: Pharmacy Funding Crisis Update appeared first on Community Pharmacy England.