In sharp contrast to the situation in England, Wales is to maintain its community pharmacy funding at £144.3m for 2017/18.
Making the announcement earlier this month, health secretary Vaughan Gething described the community pharmacy sector as a “fundamental part” of a strong primary care service in Wales.
“At a time when thousands of community pharmacies in England face closure as a result of funding cuts of over 7 per cent, I said there were no proposals to reduce investment in community pharmacy here in Wales. Today’s announcement shows we’ve been true to our promise,” he said.
The Welsh Government says the funding will “improve access to services provided by community pharmacies, such as the common ailment service and pharmacy influenza vaccinations. It will also support the implementation of a pharmacy quality programme and support collaborative working between pharmacies and other primary care providers”.
Additional funding will also make the Choose Pharmacy IT application available to all pharmacies in Wales. This gives community pharmacists access to patients’ summary medical records.
“Choose Pharmacy will support pharmacists to deliver an increasing range of patient focused clinical services. Our common ailment scheme allows people with minor ailments to see highly skilled pharmacists for advice and treatment, freeing up GPs’ time to focus on those people with more complex cases and reduce patient waiting times,” said Mr Gething.
Pharmacist Phil Parry, chair of the board of Community Pharmacy Wales (CPW), welcomed the funding decision and said the board was “committed to getting high levels of engagement and delivery from our contractors to make sure that community pharmacists play an ever expanding role in the delivery of healthcare in Wales”.
The commitment to make the Choose Pharmacy platform available to every community pharmacy was a particularly welcome step and is an “affirmation of our central role as part of the healthcare family in Wales,” he added.
Calling the news “a real triumph”, Numark’s director of marketing and professional development, Mandeep Mudhar, said not only was it heartening to see the commitment from the Welsh Government to the future of community pharmacy in Wales, but it was also great that there was a commitment to working closely with CPW to make it a reality.
“There is positive intent to not follow the way of England by imposing cuts or looking to reduce pharmacy numbers, and that is testament to the strength of CPW in its negotiations with the Welsh Government.
“There’s also the pledge to fund a national IT support programme, which will potentially be a game changer for community pharmacy in Wales and sets the standard for the rest of the UK.
“Community pharmacy in England could learn some lessons here – very simply, a unified pharmacy body speaking to Government with a unified message to deliver the prosperity that community pharmacy sector needs to survive and thrive,” commented Dr Mudhar.