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Don't try and get pharmacy first in England 'on the cheap', says Phoenix chief


Don't try and get pharmacy first in England 'on the cheap', says Phoenix chief

By Neil Trainis

Phoenix UK group managing director Steve Anderson has said the government should follow the example of its counterpart in Scotland and properly fund a pharmacy first service instead of trying to get it “on the cheap.”

Anderson (pictured) pointed to last week’s agreement between Community Pharmacy Scotland and the Scottish government of a six per cent increase on the sector’s global sum for 2023-24, equating to £12.3 million, as a lesson Downing Street can learn when it comes to funding the scheme in England.

CPS also said Scotland’s 1,256 pharmacies will benefit from a “guaranteed minimum” of £100 million and “mapped money” of £80 million. Last month, ministers in England pledged to invest £645 million in community pharmacy services including a pharmacy first scheme, a sum pharmacy leaders warned was not enough to address pharmacies’ increasing workload and costs.

“There are lessons to be learnt from the Scottish Government on the future of community pharmacy,” Anderson said. “For years, Scotland has been trailblazing the delivery of patient services through pharmacies. Phoenix has a presence in 29 countries across Europe and I can tell you that Scotland’s pharmacy first model is the most advanced in terms of scope, breadth, and ambition.

“If England wishes to develop its own pharmacy first approach, that is a fundamental lesson it must learn.”

Anderson said if the Scottish government had failed to follow through on its promise to fairly fund community pharmacy, it may have prompted ministers in England to think they could get a pharmacy first scheme “on the cheap through a pharmacy network which is slowly shrinking.”

“This agreement is not just a good outcome for patients in Scotland, but a beacon of hope for patients across the UK who need access to essential NHS care, support and advice beyond GP surgeries and A&E,” he said, insisting funding cuts in England has seen community pharmacy lose nearly £800 million.

“Community pharmacy is not a cost centre to be relentlessly squeezed, rather it is at the heart of improving healthcare outcomes from illness prevention to long-term condition management,” he said.

“That is the lesson from Scotland: invest in a network which increases patient access to essential NHS care; which reduces cost and demand pressures on other parts of the NHS; and improves patient satisfaction and health outcomes.”

Anderson said Phoenix and Numark will continue to impress upon ministers, officials and policy makers in England “that community pharmacy is a solution to increasing patient demand and expectations.”

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