Pharmacy Voice (PV) and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) have responded to the Government’s plans for 'Community Pharmacy in 2016/17 and Beyond', following the initial stakeholder briefing released in January.
Pharmacy Voice referenced the "flawed consultation process" of the initial Department of Health proposals for the future of community pharmacy, and the risks that are now posed to patient care and population health. It also sets out an introduction to its own proposals “for a more constructive and forward-looking approach to realising the full potential of community pharmacy”.
The RPS also highlighted concerns about the impact that the funding cuts will have on patient care and made the case for investment in the profession which would improve the public’s health and wellbeing.
Claire Ward, chair of Pharmacy Voice, said: “We are eager to work with the Government in a constructive way, and recognise this opportunity to change the sector for the better. However, it seems clear that the cuts being proposed are based not on what the Department of Health deems efficient or safe, but rather on what HM Treasury wishes to save."
Criticising the proposals, Ms Ward continued: “The proposals for delivering efficiencies we’ve seen are at a very early stage of development and will not provide any meaningful savings prior to the imposition of the cuts. So it is hardly surprising that pharmacies across the country are speaking out against these rash cuts, being imposed with little notice and with scant regard for the consequences.
“Pharmacy Voice, alongside its members, will continue to keep the dialogue going and will make the damaging consequences of these proposals on public health absolutely clear to the Government.”
Sandra Gidley, RPS English Pharmacy Board chair, commented: “In all our meetings with the Government we have been unequivocal in our concerns about the impact on patient care that could result from these cuts. We have made it very clear that community pharmacists, as the most accessible healthcare providers on the high street, must not be diminished. We are extremely concerned the cut has been imposed without an attempt to assess where and how services will be affected."
Ms Gidley added: “We recognise the need to consider efficiencies across the NHS in order to ensure the best use of resources at this time of growing public demand. We have made a strong case for the development of pharmacy to deliver a greater range of clinical services in new roles that will fulfil the Government’s ambition to put pharmacists at the heart of the NHS, as well as creating efficiency savings across the broader NHS.”