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No funding cuts for pharmacies in Wales

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No funding cuts for pharmacies in Wales

Contractors in Wales have been reassured that the Welsh Government has no plans to cut their funding within the next two years.

Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport in Wales Vaughan Gething clarified the position in a written statement issued on October 20. He said: "Let me reassure you, the health and social services budget in Wales for the current and next financial year does not include any proposals to reduce investment in community pharmacy."

But he did acknowledge that the changes in England "provide an opportunity to reflect on whether the considerable investment we make in the sector currently delivers a community pharmacy service which will meet the needs of the people in Wales in the future." And he said that, in the longer term, maintaining current levels of investment would be conditional on new arrangements for community pharmacies.

These new arrangements should ensure that community pharmacies: provide a greater range of clinically focused services; demonstrate a commitment to improving service quality; contribute to reducing medicines waste; utilise skill mix and automation more effectively to release time for pharmacists to deliver pharmaceutical care, both in and out of the pharmacy; and commit to workforce development and improvements in IT infrastructure.

Welsh Government officials would be consulting with Community Pharmacy Wales on how these priorities would be delivered and how pharmacies would begin the transition to a more clinically focused service from April 2017. 

Mr Gething also reiterated the importance of pharmacy to the Welsh Government's wider healthcare plans. "Let me be clear, the community pharmacy sector is a fundamental part of a strong primary care service. This is why the programme this government set out in Taking Wales Forward commits to invest in community pharmacies to take pressure off our GP services, reducing unnecessary appointments and making sure people are able to see the right professional in the right setting at the right time."

RPS Wales chair Suzanne Scott-Thomas welcomed the statement. "We know pharmacists who live in Wales but work in England, as well as those who work for companies who have a large presence in England will be feeling very concerned about the future," she said. “The two year commitment to funding community pharmacy in Wales is a testament to excellent patient care that pharmacists are providing to patients and the public.

"Pharmacists can do even more, we would like the 'Choose Pharmacy' campaign to be developed into a national common ailments services scheme. This coupled with a National Patient Behaviour Change campaign would do a lot to relieve pressure on GP surgeries and A&E departments."

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