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Pharmacies to ‘turn out the lights’ on June 20 in ‘emergency’ protest

Pharmacies across the UK will take part in a range of protest actions later this month including “turning the lights out” and asking staff to wear black to highlight the “growing crisis” in the sector.

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) today (June 4) announced a “day of protest action” to highlight the “emergency across the community pharmacy sector”.

It called on pharmacies across the UK to take part in the “One Day to #SaveOurPharmacies” protest on June 20 by taking a “a range of symbolic actions that signify dark times for the beleaguered community pharmacy sector”.

These include “turning the lights out” for a few hours, asking their staff to wear black or blacking out windows, as well as using the day to engage with patients and parliamentary candidates, it said.

Read more: French pharmacists strike ‘for the survival of local pharmacies’

However, the NPA said that it is “not currently in a position to recommend strike action” after taking “legal advice”.

“We would be reluctant to support any action that impairs patient care, but we understand the level of anger that has led to calls for strike action,” it added.

Last week, pharmacists across France left the dispensing counter to strike over funding, closures and drug shortages. 

 

“Unprecedented step”

 

The membership body revealed that it chose the date of June 20 for the event because this represents “the day from which the average pharmacy across the four nations will be lossmaking overall”.

“There is typically only enough NHS funding to cover costs for the first three weeks of any month – after which the pharmacy service is effectively subsidised by the business,” it said.

Read more: UPDATED: No new pharmacy contract until ‘after the election’, says CPE

NPA chief executive Paul Rees added that the organisation is taking the “unprecedented step of organising a UK-wide day of pharmacy protests” to draw attention to the “growing crisis” in the sector.

He stressed that pharmacy teams are finding it “increasingly difficult to deliver excellent patient care”, with funding cuts leaving them “suffering from increased stress and demoralisation”.

 

“Not taking sides” in election

 

“With the general election in full swing, it is vital that the politicians get the message: that there is now an emergency in our community pharmacy sector,” Rees said.

But the NPA stopped short of recommending that its members “vote against” the Conservative Party that “made these cuts”.

“We are not taking sides in this general election”, it said, adding that it is “on the side of community pharmacies and their patients”.

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

It demanded a “new deal” for the sector that “addresses the billion-plus shortfall in funding and treats pharmacists with more respect”, adding that “now is the time to raise the level of noise about a fair deal for pharmacies”.

It comes as the pharmacy negotiator yesterday (June 3) confirmed to C+D that community pharmacy will have to wait until after the July 4 general election for a new contractual arrangement.

Read more: IPA delivers ‘prescription’ to save the sector to Number 10

It said that discussions on the new one-year deal “can continue” but said that a “formal agreement” will need to wait until the general election is concluded and a new cabinet is appointed.

The day of action is part of a renewed push for the NPA’s #SaveOurPharmacies campaign, which last month saw the body hand a £108 million invoice for a “month’s underpayment” to the government.

The action so far has also seen pharmacies “put up new campaign posters, share campaign stickers with patients and collect signatures for the campaign”, the NPA said.

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