NPA chairman Ian Strachan has today written to members offering support and encouragement as 12 per cent cuts to pharmacy funding take effect.
Mr Strachan described the cuts, which come into force today, as "a dangerous path which puts England’s network of local pharmacies at risk and misses an opportunity to dramatically improve healthcare across the country."
In his message to NPA members, Mr Strachan said: "Today the NHS is taking a big step in the wrong direction by reducing pharmacy funding in England. There are undoubtedly difficult times ahead, but united within the NPA, independents can come through the other side resilient and strong.
"There are two possible futures for community pharmacy – one which makes the most of local pharmacies at the heart of the NHS and one in which locally based care gradually shrinks away and patients suffer the consequences. We are determined that community pharmacy gets on the right path."
The NPA is taking legal advice about next steps on its legal challenge to the cuts. It is also continuing with political activities at national and local level, where campaigning is gathering momentum in many areas of England.
"We are going to continue pressing until the government’s direction of travel shifts dramatically. So please do not falter now! Stay engaged at npa.co.uk/step-forward and press ministers to fulfil the commitments they made in Parliament to maintain patient access to pharmacy services."
Mr Strachan called on independent pharmacists to reflect on what the campaign against the cuts had achieved to date. This included delaying implementation of the cuts and slowing down moves towards automation and centralised dispensing, including shelving the hub-and-spoke consultation. The campaign had also raised awareness of the community pharmacy offering and increased its political support.
Mr Strachan urged independents to review their businesses and ensure they were fit for the future. He suggested getting in touch with the NPA to discuss its business services.
"Stay close to your trade association. We’ll be with you every step of the way."