Numark managing director Jeremy Meader has said the pharmacy industry would welcome a “practical solution and a more transparent approach” to any reduction in the number of community pharmacies as the sector continues to feel the pressure from the government’s funding cuts.
PSNC members agreed during a two-day meeting in Birmingham in November that they would support a planned reduction in pharmacy numbers if the NHS decides there should be closures, although pharmacy’s negotiator also stressed it was keen to “maintain a network of fully funded community pharmacies.”
Between April 2016 and April 2018, 134 pharmacies in England closed although it is thought that number could now be higher.
Meader (pictured) said if further closures were unavoidable, a practical solution should be found to allow pharmacies to work together “to achieve a reduction provided that patients don’t suffer and owners aren’t financially disadvantaged.”
“Fundamentally the role of pharmacy is to be provide great care to patients in the heart of their local community,” Meader told ICP.
“There is a growing recognition that patients and the NHS would benefit from more prevention, screening and wellbeing services provided in local community settings. Our national community pharmacy network is in a leading position to provide those services: good for patients, A&E departments and GP surgeries.
“If there is evidence that there are too many pharmacies for the amount of funding the DHSC (Department of Health and Social Care) is willing to make available, then the industry would welcome a practical solution that enables pharmacies to work together to achieve a reduction, provided that patients don’t suffer and that owners aren’t financially disadvantaged.
“The past couple of years have, too many of our members, felt like ‘death by a thousand cuts’ so a practical solution and a more transparent approach would be welcomed on this basis.”
Meader added: “However, before we close current local healthcare assets the DHSC needs to set out its long-term vision for community pharmacy as part of the NHS family and our role as community healthcare hubs.
“The DHSC may then see that investing in, rather than cutting funding to, the community pharmacy network generates significant financial and patient experience benefits.”
English Pharmacy Board chair Sandra Gidley recently said if pharmacies have to close, there should be planned rather than random closures although she challenged the government to provide evidence that there are too many pharmacies.