Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Our chief pharmacist and owner, Stuart Gale, explains what the government’s proposed funding cuts will mean to your local pharmacy.
“November 2nd will see the latest debate in parliament on cuts to pharmacy funding. We have had lots of our regular customers ask us what this will mean to them and so we thought it would be useful to outline some of the key facts.
“In a nutshell, due to cost pressures on NHS England, pharmacy funding is being cut by 6%, which represents an average funding drop of more than £14,500 for every pharmacy in England. The cuts are due to begin to come into effect from December 1st.
“The reality is that without this funding many pharmacies will either have to close or significantly cut back on some of the free value added services that they provide. These include services such as home deliveries, packaging medication into dosette boxes or blister packs, requesting prescriptions for patients and collecting them from surgery, helping with minor injuries and having enough trained staff available to meet patient needs – services for which pharmacies on not receive specific funding.
“Pharmacy is more cost effective than urgent care and over recent years the government has encouraged patients to use their pharmacy as a first port of call. This strategy was introduced to ease the pressure on GP and A&E services. Now, in spite of the fact that the NHS is bursting at the seams, the strategy has changed again, and as community pharmacy cuts begin to bite, so will we see patient numbers and waiting times to treatment shoot ever upwards.
“The grand plan appears to be for online pharmacy services to take a bigger role in providing patients with the medication they need if they face difficulties accessing their community pharmacy. This will be especially relevant to those patients hit with a double austerity whammy of closed pharmacy and axed bus services, particularly those who require repeat prescriptions to treat chronic conditions.
“Yes, legitimate online pharmacy offers a convenient alternative, but it is supplementary to community pharmacy, not a replacement for face-to-face services. Not everyone feels comfortable ordering medication online, and the needs of those who do not want to go down this route need to be taken in to consideration.
“So the question is what can members of the public do to support their community pharmacy? There have been a number of petitions set up the biggest one to date (Stop cuts to pharmacy funding and support pharmacy services that save NHS money) was signed by 68,044 people. This the latest one:
“The public can also contact their local MP if they are concerned. The more voices there are standing up for community pharmacy the more likely it is that we will be heard.”