Government suggestions to draft pharmacies in to help out during NHS strikes this winter are “categorically impossible” without extra funding, a PSNC Committee Member has warned.
The Sunday Telegraph reported that community pharmacy teams could be drafted in to help the NHS to cope when other healthcare workers take industrial action.
But while pharmacy has the skills and ambition to help the NHS, PSNC Chief Executive Janet Morrison said Government must offer more funding and support.
PSNC briefed a number of national media journalists on the issue and the Independent, iNews and the Evening Standard have since reported that community pharmacies won’t take on this extra work for free.
We are continuing to stress to Government that while pharmacies want to help patients and do more to support the NHS, pharmacy teams are already overstretched and businesses are facing immense and unsustainable financial pressures.
This includes working with LPCs and others to brief MPs on the situation using both our Four Point Plan and a briefing on the pressures and risks if these are not addressed.
Look out for more updates later this week on how you can help support our campaign to protect and increase pharmacy funding.
Janet Morrison, PSNC Chief Executive, said:
“Community pharmacy teams have repeatedly shown that they have the skills, ambition and accessibility to help support patients and the NHS through moments of crisis. But this winter, pharmacies are approaching their own crisis as years of underfunding, efficiency squeezes and workforce problems take their toll. Pharmacy teams are in the same position as their health service colleagues – exhausted, overworked, and struggling to make ends meet. If Government wants pharmacies to step up again, they will need to back this with emergency funding and support.”
Fin McCaul, PSNC North-West Regional Representative and independent community pharmacy contractor, said:
“It would make far more sense for us to being doing more on a routine basis because we’ve got the access to patients, the medicines and the testing to make sure they can have the antibiotics and to check they have the UTIs, strep throat, etc. But there’s huge ‘but’ in all of it. Just like nurses and doctors, community pharmacies are grossly underfunded. We’re on our knees. To take this on with no increase in core funding, with no new funding, would be categorically impossible.”
Reena Barai, PSNC Committee Member and independent community pharmacy contractor, said:
“A cocktail of issues including medicine supply problems and workforce shortages mean that pharmacists will be unable to push themselves further on current budgets. To add this sort of level of service to what we’re already doing – it would buckle the whole sector.”