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Pharmacy funding in ‘hibernation’ amid government ‘prejudice’ and mistrust

Pharmacy funding is currently “in hibernation” until a new government is in place, with the sector facing “prejudice” and a lack of “trust” from decision-makers in the meantime, pharmacists have warned.

Sandeep Dhami, superintendent pharmacist at MW Philips pharmacy group and Association of Independent Multiple pharmacies (AIMp) member, said that he believed that funding for community pharmacy is “in a state of hibernation”.

Mr Dhami was speaking as part of an AIMp panel discussing the state of community pharmacy funding at the Pharmacy Show on Sunday (October 15), responding to an audience question on progress with negotiations for the next pharmacy contract.

Read more: Pharmacies will be in ‘survival’ mode for the next six months, sector leaders warn

He told delegates that the “looming” election means that contractual arrangements will most likely “carry over”, instead of a new deal being agreed before a general election. 

Mr Dhami said that the community pharmacy sector should anticipate “a bit of the same” until it is clear who will form a new government with a new Department of Health and Social Care (DH).


DH and NHSE “prejudice”


Meanwhile, pharmacy contractor and AIMp member Ian Strachan said that the sector faced “prejudice” from the DH and NHS England (NHSE).

Neither organisation “like” or “trust” community pharmacy, which creates a barrier to “integration” with the broader health sector, he added.

Read more: Pharmacy First: Sector must prove it can ‘manage’ antimicrobial stewardship

“We’ve got to outsmart them,” he said, pointing to a need for “the right leadership” to guide the sector in its interactions with decision-makers as well as to “get into the public domain a lot more than we are doing now”.

And he said that he doesn’t “particularly rate [the] Labour [Party] over the Conservatives in any way, in terms of a vision for this sector”.

NHS England and the DH did not respond to C+D’s request for comment.


Funding crisis?


In an earlier session at the Pharmacy Show, pharmacy leaders stressed that the immediate future of pharmacy will come down to “survival”.

And last month, C+D reported that Community Pharmacy England (CPE) had said that it hoped to have finished negotiations on the promised £645 million pharmacy funding by its next committee meeting in November.

Read more: CPE ‘hopes to have concluded’ £645m funding negotiations by November

Concern over the dire state of pharmacy funding has also been a topic of debate in Westminster recently.

In September, a Westminster Hall debate saw MPs warn that community pharmacies could “cease to exist in large swathes of the country” if the government failed to address the “enormous pressures” facing the sector.

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