Sandra Gidley, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) English Pharmacy Board, has expressed her concerns after the Department of Health wrote to pharmacy stakeholders saying that a decision regarding the community pharmacy reforms will be revealed in October 2016.
The Department of Health’s announcement came just nine days after David Mowat, minister for community health and care, announced at the RPS Annual Conference on 5 September 2016 that plans to cut community pharmacy funding would be put on hold to allow more time for the government to come to the right decision.
“I welcomed the government’s recent announcement at the RPS conference that ministers wanted to ‘pause and reflect’ on the proposed community pharmacy reforms,” says Gidley. “However, I am concerned that the timetable announced today means the time for further discussion is short.
“It is now time for the minister to take action and truly put pharmacists at the heart of primary care,” she adds.
At the conference, Mowat praised the recently published ‘Community pharmacy forward view’, and said he was keen to work closely with the pharmacy profession. Gidley says Mowat now needs to “match reality with his warm words” and reassure the pharmacy profession that their feedback on the original community reform package, initially proposed in January 2016, will be taken into serious consideration.
“New proposals from government must show that the work of pharmacists to improve patient care is valued and will be supported now, as well as in the future,” says Gidley.
“The RPS English Board is still of the belief that any cut to community pharmacy, and primary care generally, is short sighted if the government is committed to its stated aim of investing in primary care and prevention of ill health,” she added.