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Confusion reigns as cuts loom


Confusion reigns as cuts loom

While being granted an extension to the consultation period for cuts to pharmacy funding must be welcomed, it also appears to highlight a lack of forethought around the whole initiative. A three-month consultation period that included Christmas was not a consultation period at all, only a token gesture suggesting a complete lack of interest in discussion.

In fact, it is difficult to see exactly what the government is interested in when it comes to pharmacy in England. As Claire Ward points out, while it knows that change is necessary, the inconsistencies in its arguments suggests it has no idea what that change might be.

Hub and spoke is a prime example of how out-of-touch the NHS England policymakers are with reality. A joint DH/MHRA consultation on proposed changes to the Medicines Act suggests that up to half of independents will be using hub-and-spoke models within three years of being allowed to do so. A Cambrian Alliance survey, however, revealed that 92 per cent of independents were against the model and 82 per cent thought increased adoption would damage their business.

With the announcement of a national common ailments scheme for Wales, the rest of the UK’s government has finally realised that such schemes are no-brainers for safely and cost-effectively controlling the number of unnecessary visits to GP surgeries and A&E. All except England, that is. Again, it’s a mystery why NHSE doesn’t want to adopt an excellent, cost-saving scheme that is already working well elsewhere.

Pharmacists in England should be worried about what is over the horizon, because a 6 per cent funding cut is plainly the tip of a dangerous iceberg. The lack of coherent service development plans is only slightly less worrying than the plans for cutbacks.

Community pharmacy must remain hopeful, but there is much more that could be done at grass roots level. While 360,000 signatures on the petition against cuts sounds a lot, 30 from each pharmacy in England is not likely to impress many decision-makers.

An excellent way to continue thinking positively would be to enter this year’s Independent Pharmacy Awards, now open for initial entries. The great and the good from the healthcare world attend our awards, so as well as gaining recognition for your pharmacy, entering the awards would help shine a light on the great work continually taking place in the independent sector.

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