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Vulnerable patients to be worst hit by funding cuts

Some 62 per cent of pharmacies are likely or highly likely to stop the free services they provide as a result of proposed funding cuts, a new survey from Numark has revealed. This would undoubtedly have a detrimental impact on their patients, especially those who are elderly or less mobile and rely on the services to get important medication.

Numark members who responded to the survey said that prescription collection, delivery, monitored dosage system (MDS) and other free services would need to be stopped. One Numark member commented: “We will become busy fools if we continue to provide free services. Regrettably, it's the patient who will suffer once again as pharmacies make further efficiencies on behalf of a clueless [Department of Health] and PSNC.”

A further 80 per cent of respondents said they were likely or highly likely to reduce existing staffing costs with a further 83 per cent likely or highly likely to reduce their locum cover and/or fees. Several respondents noted that with reduced staff numbers, increasing script volume and income from services would be difficult to achieve, but at least 50 per cent stated they would work on boosting these areas.

John D’Arcy, managing director of Numark, said: “The survey results make for stark reading and demonstrate the invidious position most contractors are in. Our members don’t need me to say that now is not the time to cut staff or cancel investment in their businesses, they know their situation and have given these matters plenty of thought. However, I would urge that contractors review how they can increase their income before they make cuts that will weaken their competitive situation. The ultimate loser is, of course, the patient – and the most vulnerable ones at that.”

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