Two years of community pharmacy development have been “lost” because of government cuts, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) chief executive Sue Sharpe told the 2017 Local Pharmaceutical Committees (LPCs) conference.
And the fight now for community pharmacy is to ensure that the next two or three years are not also lost as the PSNC continues to oppose the government’s cuts to the sector, Sharpe said.
She told the conference, held in Manchester on 1 November 2017, that government policy over the past two years had damaged community pharmacy, but that it had also hit patients who had been denied access to high-quality care from within their communities.
Sharpe also revealed that the judicial review of the funding cuts brought by the PSNC and the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) had cost the PSNC almost £1m in legal fees.
The PSNC has just over £150,000 left from the special levy it imposed to pay for the legal battle, which may have to be used when its appeal against the judicial review decision is heard some time next year.
But Sharpe said the PSNC would ask for no further money to cover legal fees.
“Clearly we must hope that NHS England and the government will listen and appreciate the value of community pharmacy and we won’t have to pursue the appeal, but sadly we can’t be confident at the moment that this will be the case,” she said.
Sharpe told the conference that no negotiations with the government had taken place for 2018–2019 on community pharmacy funding. She said it was not unusual for negotiations not to have begun by the autumn, but she said that the PSNC had not been told whether it would be given a negotiating mandate for 2018–2019 at all.
The PSNC held its first meeting with pharmacy minster Steve Brine on 23 October 2017, Sharpe said, but nothing firm was agreed.
“He was positive in his views about building on community pharmacy, but we need to get some meat before we can move forward,” she told the conference.
“We told the minister that we really want to restore collaborative working and proper engagement and we asked him to play his part in this.”
Source: Courtesy, Kevin Barron
All Party Pharmacy Group chair, Kevin Barron, addressing the conference, described the government’s current policies affecting community pharmacy as “wrongheaded” and “shoddy”.
He said the current situation that saw community pharmacies receiving more than 90% of their income from filling prescriptions provided pharmacists with little incentive to tackle wider health issues.
“I will continue to fight against the shoddy treatment of community pharmacists because you all have a vital role to play in the communities in which you sit,” he told the conference.
“For instance, smoking cessation services done by health professionals, properly trained, should be a resource available to every community.”
Barron said he would press the House of Commons Health Select Committee chair, Sarah Wollaston, to hold a one-off hearing on the current state of community pharmacy.