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CPE 'very concerned' over Leadsom 'thriving’ pharmacy market comments

The pharmacy negotiator has written to the chair of the health and social care committee (HSCC) outlining its concerns about comments made by the pharmacy minister that the sector is “thriving”.

Last week, pharmacy minister Dame Andrea Leadsom said that the community pharmacy sector “continues to be a thriving market”.

Speaking at the final session of the HSCC’s pharmacy inquiry, she also told MPs that pharmacy provision and government support for the sector “remains very strong”.

Read more: ‘Thriving market’: Minister upbeat about community pharmacy despite closures

But Community Pharmacy England (CPE) has hit out at the comments, saying that it wrote to HSCC chair Steve Brine last week (March 28) to outline its concerns.

It said that it was “very concerned to hear statements during the session suggesting that the community pharmacy network is thriving”, adding that its own “analysis and the direct testimony of pharmacy owners themselves show the opposite”.

Read more: Negotiator slams government for imposing ‘untested’ concession changes

“Our analysis of the accounts of pharmacy companies, which we have shared with the Department of Health and Social Care (DH)…tells a story of declining performance, loss-making and negative net assets,” the letter said.

The negotiator added that it looks forward to the HSCC’s recommendations, which it “[hopes] will underline the critical need for an economically sustainable community pharmacy sector”.

Thriving or surviving?

It comes as Weldricks operations director David Vanns has said that pharmacy negotiator CPE “negotiated a lot of losses for people this year”, in an exclusive interview with C+D.

Vanns was speaking to C+D about Weldricks’ accounts for the 2022/23 financial year, which saw the independent multiple suffer a £1.4 million loss.

And data from C+D’s 2023 edition of the Salary Survey revealed that pharmacy contractors were having a torrid time with their finances and their workloads.

Read more: Cuts, overdrafts and closures: Business becoming ‘impossible’ for contractors

More than a third of respondents said that one or more of their pharmacies were “at risk” of closing in the coming year, while 15% said they had sold or closed one of their pharmacies in the past 12 months.

The survey also revealed that four in ten contractors want out of the profession, with nearly six in ten (59%) saying their stress levels were “very high” and a further quarter (26%) reporting “high” levels of stress .

Meanwhile, leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt last month said that prescription waits of over an hour caused by pharmacy closures are “not acceptable”.

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