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Brexit has shunted pharmacy to the back seat

We live in interesting times. Personally, given all that is happening right now, I would be happier to live in less interesting, slightly more secure, times.

I am reluctant to suggest optimistic times for fear that people will think I have signed up to the Boris hymn sheet.

A new prime minister and a new community pharmacy contractual framework (CPCF) in the same week - that could definitely be described as interesting.

While the ink is still drying on the CPCF, the profession and the balance sheets of pharmacy contractors, the political climate will undoubtedly influence what happens next.            

The government will spend the next three months focused on Brexit. All the its resources will be concentrated on the task together with the planning that might need to be in place should we exit without a deal.

No commentator can predict with certainty what the next few months will hold but such uncertainty has an impact on domestic policies.

Not just because the political focus is elsewhere but, as we have seen in the last three years, there has been little room for legislation unrelated to Brexit.

I can’t see this changing for the next six months.

Some of the commitments in the CPCF will require consultations and legislation. Given the current focus, pharmacy might be waiting a while to find a slot in the parliamentary timetable.

Then there is the issue of no deal. If we are to believe the Office for Budget Responsibility, the economy will require significant investment to counteract the additional costs we will face and the loss of trade.

That means less funding for the essential long-term changes in health care that are required to prevent early deaths or poor health as money is diverted to deal with medicine shortages.

While these big issues remain uncertain, it is difficult for pharmacy to get its voice heard.

So pharmacy needs to be clear about the messages it sends out.

The shift in the CPCF from supply to services is indicative of a welcomed direction of travel but the devil is in the detail.       

Over the summer the PDA will be examining what these changes might mean for pharmacists on the front-line delivering new services.

Whilst the CPCF is pegged at the same funding for the next five years, the risks of the wider political climate mean the detail might result in even more work for the same funds than currently anticipated - in real terms a significant cut in funding.

For those who are avidly following the politics, it is going to be a long, hot and very sticky summer.

 

 


Claire Ward is director of public affairs at the Pharmacists’ Defence Association.

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