Pharmacy cuts will add to NHS winter pressures

Pharmacies may be forced to offer a “severely diminished” service as a result of the funding cuts. This will add significantly to winter pressures on the NHS, the NPA has warned.

A survey carried out by Mallinson House has found that 76 per cent of the NPA’s members could have to reduce services during the coming winter because of the cash flow challenges presented by the front-loaded cuts.

NPA chairman Ian Strachan said: “Many community pharmacies expect to encounter cash flow difficulties in the period up to April 2017. They have few options to reduce their cost base quickly beyond cutting staff levels and reducing opening hours. This is bound to add to winter pressures on other parts of the health service.”

He continued: “The cuts will begin to take effect just as pharmacies are entering the busiest period of the year, as well as this being the busiest period of the year for other parts of the health service. The immediate concern is for service levels over the crucial winter period when demand is at its highest because of seasonal illness.”

Among the survey findings:

  • 86 per cent of pharmacies are likely to limit or remove ‘free’ services, such as home delivery of medicines to housebound patients
  • 54 per cent are likely to reduce opening hours
  • 86 per cent are likely to reduce staffing levels.
    This is bound to add to winter pressures

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