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Temporary closures linked to job satisfaction, says chief pharmacist

Pharmacy News

Temporary closures linked to job satisfaction, says chief pharmacist

The rise in pharmacies temporarily closing their doors to the public cannot be solely attributed to funding issues, England’s chief pharmacist has claimed.

Responding to a question from Pharmacy Network News at last week’s National Pharmacy Association conference, chief pharmaceutical officer David Webb said that while he acknowledges criticisms of the five-year frozen funding settlement as placing “pressure on the system,” there are also “other factors” driving the increase in local pharmacies not opening for all their contracted hours.

Mr Webb said that closures – which he described as a “concrete concern” – are also driven by geographical factors and “the nature of work and the enjoyment people have”.

He said that in addition to prioritising “high quality care and population-based health,” there must be “improvements” so that community pharmacy careers are “more fulfilling”.

NHS England is focusing on the “expansion” of pharmacists’ clinical role and in particular independent prescribing, he said, so that they “take care of their patients, feel accountable for care and get growth through that”.

Mr Webb also said that allowing pharmacy technicians to operate under patient group directions (PGDs) “would be a significant step forward in terms of skill mix and liberating pharmacists to work in prescribing situations”.

Responding to these remarks, NPA chair Andrew Lane said his members “would like to get where David is going to” but warned there are “significant issues around funding”.

Calling for a “crisis budget” for England’s pharmacies, he said current rates of drug price inflation are “unsustainable”.

“The public are seeing temporary closures for some pharmacies that can’t keep their doors open,” Mr Lane said, with some struggling to source their medicines as a result.

The conference session also heard from Nicole Atkinson, the clinical lead for Nottingham & Nottinghamshire’s integrated care structure (ICS), who said the Government’s apparent decision not to pursue its one-time plans to introduce a Scotland-style Pharmacy First walk-in service for England represents a “missed opportunity”.

The Community Pharmacist Consultation Service “has been the right direction of travel but doesn’t go far enough,” she said.

However, Ms Atkinson said the introduction of ICSs, which from April will be responsible for commissioning pharmacy services, offers a “real opportunity for change” and will help to unite the different primary care operators.

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