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NPA delivers £108m invoice to DH as Sunak says he ‘cares deeply’ about sector

The independent pharmacy body has handed a £108 million invoice for a “month’s underpayment” to the Department of Health and Social Care (DH), after the PM said he cares “deeply” about the sector. 

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) hand-delivered a £108m bill to the government “on behalf of community pharmacies” for a “month’s underpayment” this morning (May 16).

It told C+D that the invoice represents “the amount pharmacies in England subsidised the dispensing of NHS medicines from their own pockets last month due to underfunding.”

“The £108m figure is an average monthly figure based on the loss to pharmacy incomes over the past decade,” it added. 

The body announced that it has launched “an online tool to help its members calculate what they are owed for their pharmacy’s NHS work in April”.

It encouraged pharmacy owners to use the tool to “join the protest by sending their own ‘invoices’ to the DH”.

“Only when the government stops expecting pharmacies to subsidise the cost of delivering NHS care can mass closures be prevented,” it added.

 

“I care deeply” 

 

The campaign comes after Conservative MP for St Ives Derek Thomas highlighted the NPA’s latest closure stats to the Prime Minister yesterday (May 15).

During Prime Minister’s questions (PMQs), Thomas said that “community pharmacies are under extreme financial pressure…this year, 177 pharmacies have closed, which compares with a figure of 116 in the same period in 2023”.

Thomas asked the PM to “do everything he can to ensure that funds are directed toward community pharmacy, so that our pharmacy friends can help the government to deliver NHS services where and when they are most needed”.

“I care deeply about the future of our community pharmacies,” Rishi Sunak said.

Sunak added that “there are over 10,500 community pharmacies across the country”.

And he said that pharmacies are “working incredibly hard to serve their patients”, although he stopped short of giving assurances about improved funding for the sector.

 

“Profoundly shocking and wrong”

 

NPA chief executive Paul Rees said that Sunak “was right to express confidence in the amazing work of pharmacies…but he completely glosses over the financial crisis engulfing pharmacies”.

Commenting on the body’s new campaign, he added that “government funding no longer covers the costs of the nation’s medicines, leaving pharmacies to subsidise the NHS from their own pockets”.

“Which other clinicians would be expected to pay the state to deliver NHS services? This is profoundly shocking and wrong,” he said.

Yesterday, the NPA warned that pharmacy closures are “skyrocketing” in 2024, with the number of closures 53% higher than the same stage last year - which it said was “the worst year in living memory”.

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