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Pharmacy Voice seeks commitments from DH

Pharmacy Voice has come out fighting against the Government’s proposed funding cuts. Chair Claire Ward, speaking today (Wednesday) at Sigma’s annual conference, said the “arbitrary” cuts would “devastate the sector” and not achieve the better patent outcomes and efficiency gains that the Department of Health wants.

“It is simply not acceptable and we will fight it,” she warned. The Department of Health and NHS England had failed to think things through.

However, pharmacy’s leadership bodies would be doing contractors a disservice if they didn’t advise them to prepare for the worst and to make plans accordingly in terms of making savings and protecting cash flow.

Pharmacy had undersold itself for years and Government doesn’t see its value. The DH considers pharmacists merely as “box distributors”, Ms Ward said. “Now is the time for pharmacists to step up to the mark and show what they are capable of.”

She said the Government’s proposals made dangerous assumptions about online access to medicines and a market-based attrition of pharmacies “would lead to the wrong answers”. Neither was hub and spoke dispensing a fundamental game-changer in terms of the economics of the sector, while increasing prescription duration risked dramatically increasing the £300m of medicines wasted each year.

Commitments

Ms Ward said Pharmacy Voice is seeking five commitments from the Government:

  1. Stop the planned disinvestment in community pharmacy in 2016/17
  2. Agree a sustainable long-term settlement with the sector
  3. Invest in service transformation for pharmacy as in other parts of the NHS
  4. Agree with pharmacy bodies a joint programme management approach to planning investment and implementing change
  5. Deliver the reforms needed in other parts of the system, and in legislation, to enable community pharmacy to play its full role.

The proposed Pharmacy Integration Fund should only support community pharmacy development rather than being spread across primary care, she added.

Ms Ward also called on the Government to integrate community pharmacy into the NHS 111 service within six months, to support and build on exemplar healthy living pharmacies, and to progress nationwide delivery of common ailment schemes and the development of a pharmacy care plan to support medicines optimisation.

In a direct message to pharmacy minister Alistair Burt, Ms Ward said: “If you invest in pharmacy and give pharmacists the tools to better support patients, the sector will deliver what you want.”

It is simply not acceptable and we will fight it

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