The Company Chemists’ Association has said the NHS will reap more than £1.9bn in benefits if the government funds community pharmacy by another £656m each year.
As the chancellor Rishi Sunak prepares to announce the autumn Budget and spending review containing plans to boost the economy’s recovery following the Covid pandemic, the CCA outlined a series of cost-savings it believes can be made with further investment in services such as the discharge medicines service and community pharmacist consultation service.
It believes another £130m in funding for the hypertension screening service, announced as part of the third year of the community pharmacy contractual framework, will help pharmacies identify 5.5 million undiagnosed people and save the NHS £739m.
The CCA said putting an extra £35m into the DMS will release two million hospital bed days a year and save £720m while expanding the CPCS to the tune of £145m will generate £255m in savings and move 8.5 million consultations out of general practice and out-of-hours services.
The CCA also said 10 million vaccinations could be delivered annually if the government invested an additional £91 million to bolster pharmacy's capacity to deliver them which would bring £153m in savings. An extra £15m would fund 500,000 emergency hormonal contraception consultations a year, saving £34m.
The organisation also called for a £240m funding injection “to return the (community pharmacy) network to a more sustainable funding level" and ensure patients have access to "safe and reliable dispensing." Community pharmacy's central funding has not increased despite the PSNC's insistence it would continue to press the government on the matter.
“To realise its full potential, there is a need to invest in the community pharmacy sector,” the CCA said.
“December 2016 saw significant cuts to pharmacy funding, with a frozen budget ever since. Despite continual efforts to secure efficiencies, businesses are at their limit.
“There is a need to recognise increased costs in recent years as well as create capacity for future clinical care. This is needed now more than ever, with large proportions of the NHS facing up to the impact of Covid-19.”