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APPG chair: Government must ‘get to grips’ with pharmacy funding

The EY report echoes calls from the sector for greater funding
The EY report echoes calls from the sector for greater funding

The pharmacy sector must ensure that the NHS and DH “really get to grips” with the size of the funding challenge, All-Party Pharmacy Group (APPG) chair Jackie Doyle-Price has said.

Commenting on a report by accountancy firm Ernst & Young (EY) that found that nearly three quarters of community pharmacies in England could be in deficit by 2024, Ms Doyle-Price said the sector must “actually make” the NHS and the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) “get to grips with the size of [the funding] challenge”.

The EY report, which was commissioned by the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) and published last week (September 4), said the community pharmacy network in England is “unsustainable under the current financial framework”.

Ms Doyle-Price was speaking during a webinar held by the NPA last week (September 4), and said she was “shocked” by the figures in the report.

“It is shocking to hear that almost three-quarters of pharmacies could be losing money within four years, and again, I think we need to emphasise just what a challenge that will bring to delivering good health outcomes for people across the country,” she said.

DH will “carefully consider the findings of the report”

The DH will “carefully consider the findings of the report on independent pharmacy in England and any implications for NHS arrangements under the community pharmacy contractual framework”, a spokesperson for the department told C+D today (September 7).

Since the start of the pandemic,  “£370 million has been made in advance payments to support pharmacies in maintaining medicine supplies and providing health advice”, they added

The DH is “continuing to engage with the sector on funding to meet extra costs incurred during the peak of the pandemic,” the spokesperson said.

AIMp: Funding needs to improve

Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp), told C+D last week (September 4) that the EY report “is consistent with what AIMp has been outlining, that the sector is underfunded”.

“Funding needs to improve to maintain the existing pharmacy network, a network that has shown how vital and valuable it is in the support it can offer to people in their local communities and society at large,” Ms Hannbeck added.

Phoenix: Network in financial meltdown

Steve Anderson, group managing director of Phoenix UK said in a statement last week (September 4) that the EY report “acknowledges” what Phoenix has “said for several years – the pharmacy network is chronically underfunded and no longer financially sustainable”.

“The inevitable result is closures at a time when pharmacies could and should play a central role in the nation’s COVID-19 recovery plans,” he added.

Mr Anderson described the pharmacy network as being “in financial meltdown” which will only “get worse in the coming years”

The EY report “must be a wake-up call to [the] government” and shows that “now is the time to invest in pharmacy”, he said.

“I hope the government will take notice of this report and act swiftly to save our pharmacies,” Mr Anderson added.

PSNC: Financial pressures “increasingly treacherous”

In a statement on the EY report last week (September 4), Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) chief executive Simon Dukes said the “financial pressures on community pharmacy contractors are increasingly treacherous”.

PSNC “welcomes any attempts to dig further into the detail of the finances of pharmacies and EY has done a considerable amount of work on this,” Mr Dukes continued.

The negotiator agrees with the EY findings “that the position of the NHS as a monopsony purchaser is dangerous for community pharmacy”, and that “the sector has been feeling the consequences of only having one customer for the past decade”, Mr Dukes added,.

An “uplift” to the community pharmacy contractual framework is “critical to ensure that pharmacies can continue to deliver what the NHS needs them to both through the pandemic and in the post-COVID world,” he added.

RPS: Pharmacy deserves financial recognition

Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) English board chair Professor Claire Anderson told C+D today (September 7) that the profession “deserves to be recognised financially for all its hard work in medicines supply and management, as well as other pharmacy services”.

“It is vital that the government backs pharmacy and make the most of our profession during this period, especially with upcoming winter pressures and a potential second-wave of the virus,” she added.

CCA: Pharmacies face “huge financial challenges”

A spokesperson for the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) told C+D today that the organisation “welcomes” the EY report, as it “it helps demonstrate the huge financial challenges that pharmacies of all sizes face”.

“The CCA has been calling for fair funding for the entire sector for some time”, the spokesperson said.

The CCA will “continue to work with our partners in the sector, NHS England and Improvement  and [the] DH to press for reasonable and fair funding for the sector to enable it to continue to deliver the safe supply of medicines, urgent care services and healthcare advice without appointment”, they added.

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