Numark has slammed the decision by the Government to phase out establishment payments for contractors in England.
John D’Arcy, managing director of Numark, commented: "The DH is throwing pharmacy to the wolves. Rather than come up with some rational agenda for pharmacy distribution, the process seems to be to pull the legs off the sector until it falls over. Taking this money away is a further body blow to the thousands of independent pharmacists in England and will have a significant impact, forcing a ‘survival of the fittest’ scenario that will change the look of community pharmacy forever."
It is hard not to believe that the Government's vision for community pharmacy is based purely on the multiples, who are in a better position to consolidate branches and direct prescriptions from closed premises to an alternative outlet, such as the Government-favoured hubs. "Most independents have no such choice. It is an appalling strategy that in my view won't work."
Mr D'Arcy accused the DH of releasing information in a "drip, drip fashion".
"It appears that they have known the mechanisms for the cuts all along and have not been honest with us. We have been left with conjecture, innuendo and hearsay and only parts of a jigsaw that do not fit together. In all this fog, it is impossible to discern anything remotely resembling a plan. But if there is one, we demand total transparency so that our members can make the harsh business decisions that will result from this.
"Crucially, this will have a significant impact on patient access to services. At a time when services are becoming more restricted in the NHS, particularly access to GP services, local communities now face the risk of losing their local pharmacy and the much needed access to advice and services they currently get," said Mr D'Arcy.
The pharmacy cuts made the front page of today's Times (January 27) with the headline 'One in four pharmacies on the high street face closure'. Click here for the full story.
It is an appalling strategy that in my view won't work