The five-year contract for pharmacies in England must be redrawn to give the sector a stronger footing within the NHS, the chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) has said.
In a statement over the weekend, AIMp chief Leyla Hannbeck said that while during the pandemic community pharmacies “have epitomised resilience and agility and have more than proved their worth,” some are being forced to close, while perceptions of a lack of respect from “some health authorities and NHS executives” are widespread.
“They see themselves as under-valued and unloved. But we could do so much more,” Ms Hannbeck said.
She said that the most pressing issue facing pharmacies is the £370m Covid advance payments from the Government, which the PSNC is pushing to have written off rather than clawed back by Treasury.
Beyond that, Ms Hannbeck said, talks must focus on achieving “greater clarity and consistency in the referral of patients from NHS111 and GPs to community pharmacies”.
“We’re able to participate more fully in the roll-out of new medicines and therapies. Rather than being on the periphery of discussions concerning the various medicine distribution models we should be fully consulted, exploiting our know-how.”
She said the sector needs “a new understanding, and that must be a redrawn contract, a new financial framework – one that we can work with, without having to complain and fight for, and one, equally, that all the NHS is happy to apply.”
However, she warned there are parts of the pharmacy network that must take steps to improve and modernize their offering: “Some pharmacies do need to take a long and hard look at themselves, their offering and appearance. This should be done in conjunction with a new deal, a new relationship with community pharmacy.
“We need to use the pandemic and the review of healthcare that is now underway, as an opportunity to repair relations, to place community pharmacies at the forefront of our health system.”