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NPA calls for emergency £250m funding injection


NPA calls for emergency £250m funding injection

Delegates at Sigma Pharmaceuticals’ conference at Heathrow

By Richard Thomas

NPA chairman Andrew Lane has warned there is a serious threat of “thousands” of pharmacy closures due to Government underfunding.

Referring to recent research from University College London and the London School of Economics at Sigma Pharmaceuticals’ autumn conference (Oct 2), he said the sector needed to fight for an immediate and fair financial settlement including an emergency funding injection of £250m a year.

In the longer term, pharmacy should be open to the idea of radical reform of the contractual framework, “one that delivers what patients want and need, including locally, but also addresses the structural issues that leave us vulnerable”.

“What I want is pharmacy unchained and unleashed to build a better, stronger future, not pharmacy undone by the dire realities of today’s incredibly challenging operating environment,” he said.

Existential crisis

Earlier, PSNC chief executive Janet Morrison told delegates that community pharmacy in England is facing “an existential crisis” in the wake of the year 4 and 5 contract agreement.

The negotiating body is pressing home to Government that the sector “is decimated, our capacity is really limited and some contractors feel like you are setting us up to fail in the next two years of this contract. However, if you give us the right kind of funding and the right kind of capacity, then we can actually be a solution to the GP access [problem],” she said.

PSNC needs to be influencing much higher up in Government “because we know by the time we end up in the negotiating room, decisions on policy are already set”, she continued.

A different approach is needed to prepare for negotiations for the next contractual framework. “We need to be getting to the prime minister and chancellor and all those people who influence their thinking [and] who have the imagination to recognise what an effective and efficient service they get through community pharmacy,” said Ms Morrison.

In the meantime, “short-term rescue measures” are needed, such as a freeze on clinical pharmacist recruitment. “We need the Government to realise that it has to stop recruiting clinical pharmacists into primary care networks and GP practices because it is absolutely shooting community pharmacy in the foot,” she said.

To those who suggest that contractors should pursue industrial action to draw attention to pharmacy’s plight, Ms Morrison said she completely understood why people felt militant and angry about the situation. “That’s up to you if [strike action is] what you want to do. However, from my personal perspective, it would be very hard for us to get our voice heard and what we don’t want is to damage our relationships with patients.”

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