The Government’s approach to the funding situation for 2016/18 shows a complete disregard for the community pharmacy sector and the wellbeing of patients. This is slap in the face for hardworking pharmacy teams and for concerned patients. Millions of worried patients have asked the Department of Health to think again.
Politicians from all parties are against the cuts. It is abundantly clear that the current policy approach is flawed and universally unpopular, yet elements within Government seem determined to press ahead with this damaging experiment.
We are urgently considering next steps, and a range of options are on the table. NPA members and many others are to be congratulated on standing shoulder-to-shoulder against this unwelcome direction of travel. Please continue to stand firm – there is a long way to go and a lot more to play for!
Our most urgent task now is to defend against the damaging potential consequences of the immediate cuts. Longer term, this issue goes far beyond the funding imposed for 2016/18 and is ultimately about keeping the ‘community’ in community pharmacy. We have always said this is a long term battle for hearts and minds – and we have a long way to go to win over the powers- that-be to a more progressive idea of what pharmacies can achieve for patients and the NHS.
What gives us grounds for hope is the unprecedented level of public awareness and active political support that has been generated over the past months. We now have in place the support base necessary to sustain an ongoing effort to change the direction of government policy in relation to community pharmacy.
The recent concession on hub-and-spoke dispensing showed that it is possible to get politicians to change course, if we present a united front and robust arguments. Meanwhile, prepare yourself for challenging times ahead by making good use of the NPA’s business resources – most of them free of charge with your NPA membership.
As your trade association, we will give you the practical tools to equip you to come though the next period. Our advice is to examine your numbers and review your wider business affairs, to make sure you are fit for the future. There are undoubtedly difficult times ahead, but united within the NPA, independents can come through the other side resilient and strong.
Visit npa.co.uk for a recording of the latest webinar on the cuts.