The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in Wales has welcomed a written statement from Vaughan Gething, cabinet secretary for health, well-being and sport, in which he reassures community pharmacists in Wales that funding for the sector will be guaranteed over the next two years.
“This is a welcome intervention from the cabinet secretary at a time when pharmacists in Wales are concerned about funding reductions in England,” says Suzanne Scott-Thomas, chair of the RPS Welsh Pharmacy Board. “We know pharmacists who live in Wales but work in England, as well as those who work for companies who have a large presence in England, will be feeling very concerned about the future.”
Gething’s statement addressed the concerns of pharmacists in Wales after health minister David Mowat announced that funding for community pharmacies in England will be cut from 1 December 2016. Gething also said that the ‘Choose pharmacy’ minor ailments scheme will be rolled out to more than half of pharmacies in Wales by March 2018 and will fully integrate community pharmacy with GPs and hospitals.
Despite providing reassurance about funding for the next two years, Gething said there was a need to reflect on whether the investment currently made in the community pharmacy sector will continue to meet the needs of Welsh people in the future. He said: “In the longer term, maintaining the current level of investment will be conditional on new arrangements for community pharmacies.
“New arrangements must ensure that community pharmacies: provide a greater range of clinically focused services; demonstrate a commitment to improving service quality; contribute to reducing medicines waste; utilise skill mix and automation more effectively to release time for pharmacists to deliver pharmaceutical care, both in and out of the pharmacy; and commit to workforce development and improvements in IT infrastructure.”
The transition to a “more clinically focused service” will begin from April 2017, suggested Gething, who is expected to reveal more about future plans for community pharmacy in Wales at the 6th RPS Wales medicines safety conference to be held in Cardiff on 3 November 2016.