Phoenix chief warns government to heed closure report
By Neil Trainis
Phoenix executive board member Steve Anderson has warned the Government that figures released by a recent report that claimed 3,000 pharmacies in England could be forced to close because of underfunding is not “scaremongering” but “the reality the country faces".
The report, produced by University College London professor David Taylor and health economist Panos Kavanos and commissioned by the National Pharmacy Association, said thousands of pharmacies could shut because of high inflation and the effects of multi-year frozen funding.
“That figure is based on independent assessments from Ernst & Young and UCL/LSE healthcare professors: it is not scaremongering – it is the reality the country faces,” Mr Anderson said.
“Fifty per cent of pharmacies are already in financial distress because government funding has been falling in real terms since 2019 and that figure is predicted to rise to 75 per cent within the next two years.”
Mr Anderson warned number 10 that it “needs to act now and invest in pharmacy or sleepwalk into a healthcare disaster as we have seen with access to dentistry care".
“Prescription volumes have risen consistently year-on-year by roughly 2 per cent... [pharmacies are] doing more work and under greater pressure than a decade ago. Ten years ago around 11,200 pharmacies in England were dispensing roughly 79,000 prescriptions; nowadays around 11,500 are dispensing roughly 89,000 prescriptions.”
Mr Anderson accused the government of overseeing a pharmacy contract that “is not fit-for-purpose,” with another challenging winter approaching, and he reserved criticism for Therese Coffey for making demands on community pharmacies to do more in her winter plan.
“The secretary of state recently asked pharmacy to do more to avoid a winter NHS crisis and at the same time said there will be no new money to pay for those additional services,” he said.
“This at a time when the network is in decline with random unplanned pharmacy closures – 640 closures since 2016 - and pharmacy staff face huge workload pressures as prescription demand is increasing year-on-year.”