Trade bodies urge Hunt to ensure inquiry includes pharmacy pressures
Three major pharmacy trade associations and the PSNC have written to health and social care committee chair Jeremy Hunt urging him to ensure funding and workforce pressures impacting community pharmacies are considered as part of an ongoing inquiry into recruitment issues in healthcare.
The National Pharmacy Association, Company Chemists’ Association, Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies and pharmacy’s negotiator made it clear in their letter that community pharmacy has endured eight years of a “real-terms” decrease in funding, which has been compounded by growing workforce challenges.
According to the PSNC, 91 per cent of pharmacies are experiencing staff shortages alongside a rise in their workload. Nine in 10 pharmacy teams reported “a significant increase” in patient calls about prescriptions while 86 per cent of teams said they were dealing with rising numbers of requests for health advice.
The bodies highlighted a report commissioned by the NPA that found three-quarters of family-owned pharmacies in England may be forced to close by 2024 while the average pharmacy is expected to make an annual loss of £43,000 by that year.
The letter warned community pharmacy’s “financial situation has become simply untenable for a sector that demonstrated its undeniable value over the course of the pandemic” and urged the Committee “to hold the Government to account over the inconsistency of asking a sector to do more without investment or a workforce strategy to match".
“The sector has demonstrated its importance to local communities over the pandemic and stepped up to the plate when the country needed it to, delivering nearly 24 million Covid vaccines to date,” the trade bodies said, calling on the Committee to “fully investigate the workforce recruitment and retention challenges within the community pharmacy sector.”
The letter warned that cuts are impacting the entire pharmacy sector, with 40 per cent of large pharmacy chains sampled in a report commissioned by the General Pharmaceutical Council operating at a loss.