Pharmacies may have to cut services and opening hours because of ‘serious financial trouble’, Community Pharmacy Scotland warns

The future of Pharmacy First is also at risk because of funding problems, Community Pharmacy Scotland says.
Pharmacist holding medicine box in pharmacy drugstore.

Community pharmacies in Scotland will have to cut services and opening hours unless they receive a significant funding boost, Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) has said.

Following a breakdown in negotiations over funding for pharmacies for the financial year 2023/2024, CPS released a statement saying that Scotland’s pharmacies are on the brink of cutting services and opening for fewer hours “without an immediate and much-improved pay offer from Scottish government”.

CPS has been in negotiations with the government since September 2022 over the 2023/2024 funding offer, with the government’s funding offer being rejected unanimously by the CPS board in May 2023.

Community pharmacies in Scotland had been working to CPS’s first ever three-year funding agreement with the government, which was agreed in 2020.

With Scotland’s pharmacies struggling with a significant increase in costs, including for medicines, CPS says that pharmacies will have to start cutting services, such as free delivery and medicines management support, unless they receive better funding.

“In some cases, medicines are costing more than we are paid by the government for them, so pharmacy owners are supplying at a loss to make sure they are caring for their patients,” CPS said.

“Critically, we expect that pharmacies will be driven to reducing their opening hours in efforts to stay afloat – meaning a further reduction in access to healthcare for patients in need,” they added.

In May 2023, the Scottish government said it would provide an “interim cash injection” for community pharmacies for the rest of 2023/2024 by increasing the value of the Scottish Drug Tariff by £20m to address the increase in the costs of medicine, a measure CPS has described as only providing “limited relief”.

CPS also warned that pharmacies may not be able to provide the Pharmacy First scheme in future years because of the crisis in funding.

“This is a world-leading service that is used millions of times each year, keeping pressure away from GPs and emergency departments, but it is under pressure itself and unless properly funded along with our other national services, it may have to be negotiated out of our contract,” CPS said.

A spokesperson from the Scottish government said: “An improved offer on the financial settlement [for] 2023/2024 was made last week to CPS and the Minister for Public Health and Women’s Health had a constructive meeting with CPS representatives last week.

“Discussions are ongoing with CPS and we hope to reach an agreed position on the financial settlement for 2023/2024 that continues to support community pharmacy as key part of the NHS in Scotland.”  

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, June 2023, Vol 310, No 7974;310(7974)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2023.1.189127

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