A collective of community pharmacy national representative bodies, together with England’s largest pharmacy chains, have written to the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak.
In the joint letter the Chief Executives of AIM, CCA, NPA and PSNC, along with Boots, Lloydspharmacy, Well and Rowlands Pharmacy, say they are pleased to see Government now recognising the key role that community pharmacy could have in alleviating the strain on other NHS services. But they warn that although the sector is ready to support, this will not be possible unless pharmacy is properly funded.
The letter calls on Government to help pharmacy to resolve the funding, workforce and capacity issues engulfing the sector. Community pharmacies are in crisis and after 7 years of 30% funding cuts have reached their limit.
It warns the Prime Minister that without intervention we are moving towards large numbers of permanent pharmacy closures with many pharmacy owners concerned that they may not survive this year. This should be a major cause for concern.
The collective of pharmacy organisations say they still strongly believe community pharmacy can help support the wider NHS and patients.
This should include freeing up millions of GP appointments and providing easy access to urgent care and healthcare advice through a fully funded ‘Pharmacy First’ service. A wider role for community pharmacy is also possible in supporting medicines optimisation, prevention, tackling health inequalities, managing long-term conditions, and so much more.
But the authors are clear that unless the plans for community pharmacy include steps to put the sector back on a sustainable footing, pharmacy won’t reach its full potential in helping with the Government’s goals for the health service.
A continual squeezing of the sector’s funding will soon lead to serious consequences for patients, the letter warns.
Janet Morrison, PSNC Chief Executive, said:
“This is a critical time for community pharmacy and it’s important that the Prime Minister knows that.
It’s good news that Government sees community pharmacy as part of the solution to NHS challenges and we were pleased that some PSNC Members attended the Prime Minister’s recent Recovery Forum at which this was discussed. We have already worked up a detailed business case for a Pharmacy First scheme which would crucially help patients and relieve pressure on GPs and other frontline services.
But the Prime Minister should also know that community pharmacies are also facing a crisis. They need sustainable investment, urgently, if we are to avoid devasting consequences for pharmacies and for their patients.”
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