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Government will have reduced pharmacy contract by £1bn


Government will have reduced pharmacy contract by £1bn

By Neil Trainis

Phoenix group managing director Steve Anderson has claimed the Government will have reduced the current community pharmacy contract by £1bn by the end of its fifth and final year.

Mr Anderson (pictured) warned that since the start of the contract in 2018-19, the sector’s global sum has shrunk by £790m, with flat funding and the further effects of inflation set to take that to a £1bn reduction in real terms funding by 2024.

The question of how much funding the Government has provided community pharmacies in real terms, taking into account inflation over the last three years, was discussed by MPs this month. Government figures showed the £2.592bn in the global sum in 2018-19 effectively dropped to £2.526bn the following year and £2.374bn in 2020-21 due to inflation.

Health minister Will Quince said the Department of Health and Social Care was monitoring pharmacy closures but insisted patients’ access to pharmaceutical services was “good,” with 80 per cent living within 20 minutes’ walk of a pharmacy.

He also said there was double the number of pharmacies in deprived areas and reminded parliament that the Government agreed a £100m excess margin write-off for contractors during talks with the PSNC last month.

However, Mr Anderson said the pharmacy’s funding figures were “truly shocking” and insisted it was no surprise that hundreds of pharmacies had closed randomly in recent years.

“With inflation running rampant along with continued flat funding that closure rate will inevitably hasten rapidly. This makes no sense at a time when the NHS is facing the greatest patient pressures since its inception,” he said.

“Let’s be clear, a contracting community pharmacy network restricts access to essential NHS care and risks patient harm as a result. That cannot be acceptable. If the government in England wants a smaller network, then they should say so and state their strategy to achieve that.

“Strangling the sector through insufficient funding is a cowardly approach which is wreaking havoc across the sector.”

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