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‘We're exactly the same’: Pharmacists should be paid like GPs, says APPG chair

All-Party Pharmacy Group (APPG) chair Taiwo Owatemi has condemned the difference in renumeration for services between pharmacy and general practice in an exclusive interview with C+D.

The Labour MP said she recognised she might be biased in calling for pharmacy to be better funded, being a pharmacist herself.

Speaking to C+D last week (February 2), she said that her call for further funding was about more than helping a struggling sector.

Read more: APPG calls for ‘urgent action to relieve pharmacy funding pressure’

“I want the funding [package] to be one that recognises the skill set pharmacy has,” Ms Owatemi said.

“Currently, pharmacists are being paid £14 to provide certain services that, if given to GPs, they would be paid sometimes two to three times more than that,” she added.

“It’s the same job that’s being done. Why is there a difference?” Ms Owatemi asked.

She continued: “There is no other sector...where that would be acceptable. Why is it acceptable for pharmacists?”

 

Funding about valuing the profession

 

Ms Owatemi further questioned why GPs and pharmacists are “treated completely differently” in terms of funding from the government, when both are “private” businesses.

“I think that we're exactly the same as GPs,” she said.

She told C+D that she would like to see a “culture change” in terms of how the pharmacy profession is regarded.

 Read more: ‘GPs on the cheap’? Pharmacists must not be seen as GP substitutes, says RCGP

Ms Owatemi also wants pharmacy workers to be “proud” of their work, she said.

“I want people to be proud of our profession and I want it to be valued. I want people to recognise the positive impact that we have always [had] in providing patient care,” she stated.

Read more: APPG chair: ‘Clear’ health sec does not understand pharmacy

When asked how much more funding community pharmacy should receive from the government, Ms Owatemi said the sector should receive “enough funding that allows [pharmacists] to actually do [their] jobs properly and…meet the current challenges”.

“It's just about bringing that faith back and then letting people know that all their training is valued, and they're able to make the impact that they want to make without feeling constrained,” she added.

 

"Wrong to compare two funding models"

 

A Department of Health and Social Care (DH) spokesperson said that “it is wrong to compare two different funding models".

"GP payments are based on overall care and community pharmacies work on a fee-for-service basis," they added.

“There is a five-year deal in place for pharmacy services which has more than a year to run and was agreed with the industry. On top of this £2.6 billion per year, we are providing a further £100 million to support the provision of services,” they told C+D.

 

Read more: 'Unprecedented closures': Pharmacy leaders press Sunak for cash injection

 

The spokesperson stressed that most pharmacists are employed privately so their rates of pay will be decided by their employer and not the government.

 

COVID vaccination fees, where services were provided and funded in the same way, were the same, they said.

 

Meanwhile, health minister Neil O’Brien said on Tuesday (February 7) that “the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England are jointly considering what should follow the end of the current CPCF 2019-2024 five-year deal”, in response to a written parliamentary question

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