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NPA to look into ‘legal avenues’ over pharmacy funding cuts

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) is “urgently” seeking safeguards against the impact of the cuts, after the government’s confirmation of a 12% drop in funding.

Chairman Ian Strachan vowed to carry on the lobby group's anti-cuts fight “with renewed conviction”, in an emergency Facebook chat with members last night (October 20), as pharmacists came to terms with the government’s “modernisation” plans for the sector.

Mr Strachan reassured community pharmacists that the battle against the cuts "is far from over”. The NPA is considering “a range of options” for its next steps, including “legal avenues”, he said.

“The government has made its intentions clear; let’s make ours,” Mr Strachan said in the Facebook announcement. “We will continue to campaign because it is the right thing to do.”

Speaking to C+D today (October 21), NPA head of communications Stephen Fishwick said the association is “taking professional advice – including political, regulatory and legal – on all the options available to us.”

“We don’t want to show our hand just yet, but there are still things to play for and avenues to explore,” he stressed.

Mr Strachan said “the recent concession on hub and spoke dispensing showed that it is possible to get politicians to change course”. He added he is hopeful that with a “united front” from the sector, “there is still a chance to influence government thinking”.

'Could have of been worse'

Many pharmacists contacted the NPA overnight, “angry” at the government’s announcement but also seeking “practical support” on what to do next, Mr Fishwick told C+D.

“Just think how much worse the situation could have been if we rolled over at the beginning and accepted all this nonsense,” he said. “The determined efforts of the sector and of patients has certainly been worthwhile and it is important to keep together and keep pushing back against this direction of travel.”

The NPA advised community pharmacists to “examine your numbers and review your wider business affairs, to make sure you are fit for the future”.

It will be producing a number of business “proposals and resources” to support the sector in the comming weeks.

The RPS response

In a statement yesterday, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English pharmacy board chair Sandra Gidley said “we know that the profession needs more from us at this time”.

“It remains to be seen if the [pharmacy access scheme] will lessen the impact on opening hours and staffing levels in vital community pharmacies,” she added.

She added the society was “dismayed there is now less certainty about the long term status of [the pharmacy integration fund]”.

Ms Gidley said the RPS is making sure community pharmacists receive “practical support to plan for the change that will begin on December 1st”.


What should the sector's next steps be?

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