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‘No getting away' from cuts, warns pharmacy minister

Mr Mowat spoke briefly at a PSNC event in London on Wednesday (September 7)

Community pharmacy should not expect to escape NHS efficiency savings over the coming years, according to pharmacy minister David Mowat.

Just two days after announcing the government had delayed its decision on cuts to pharmacy funding in England, Mr Mowat said the sector is unlikely to avoid taking on its “share” of the £20 billion in savings required across the NHS.

Speaking at a Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PNSC) event yesterday (September 7), the minister dampened the sector’s hopes that the delayed decision could see the government backtrack on its proposals to slash £170 million from the global sum.

Mr Mowat said: “The message that I’m giving to you is that we are looking at [the cuts consultation]. But it is also true – and there is no getting away from this – that over the next few years in the NHS there is a need for something like £20bn worth of productivity savings. And that will need to be shared across all parts of the healthcare community.”

Mr Mowat, who appeared briefly at the event, reiterated his message of delays to the funding decision and added: “There’s a new government, a new prime minister and a new chancellor of the exchequer, and they and we are taking a look at the way forward."

He added: “We will be coming back with proposals as soon as we are able to.”

Evidence of pharmacy's value

The PSNC event was held to launch a report, by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), which estimated the value of 12 community pharmacy services – including managing prescribing errors and clarifying prescriptions – at £3bn in 2015 (see box).

PSNC chief executive Sue Sharpe said the negotiator commissioned the report after observing "that government policy was not being driven by evidence”.

She added: “It’s really important to emphasise this and the wider value of community pharmacy. We need to make sure that policymakers and government really understand what opportunities they have got.”

National Pharmacy Association chair Ian Strachan said: "The message to the government is clear – pharmacy is a valuable resource in the community that needs to be developed, not diminished.”

Key findings from the PWC report

  • In 2015, community pharmacy in England contributed a net increase of £3bn in value
  • "Indirect" health system savings could have been worth up to a further £2.5bn, from the knock-on effects of self-care and medicines support
  • Shared across all 11,815 of the pharmacies in England in 2015, the net benefit was more than £250,000 per pharmacy
  • Patients experienced around £600m of benefits, mainly through reduced travel to alternative NHS settings
  • Community pharmacy made more than 150m interventions in 2015 – including nearly 75m minor ailment consultations and 74m medicine support interventions

Source: PSNC/PWC report

Where do you think community pharmacy adds value?

S Morein, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Meanwhile huge profits and bloated goodwill values contine

Reeyah H, Community pharmacist

Ah. So no one knows as usual. 

John Urwin, Community pharmacist


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