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Burt: Cuts will go ahead regardless of consultation

Alistair Burt: Sorry for way funding cuts process started

Pharmacy minister admitted the cuts to pharmacy funding are already "settled", and apologised for the way they were announced

Pharmacy minister Alistair Burt has admitted that the government’s 6% cut to pharmacy funding will go ahead regardless of the results of a consultation with the sector.

The £170 million cut to the global sum in England is already "settled", Mr Burt said. Talks with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) will only decide how best to implement that cut, he said.

"I am working to a budget the Department [of Health] has been set... [that is] the hand I have been dealt," he said in response to a C+D question at a King's Fund event last week (February 24).

"The money has to be found," he added.

"Is the consultation useless? No it's not. The negotiations are designed to say, 'how can we do this best?'," he said.

Burt apologies for cuts announcement

Mr Burt also apologised for the way the cuts were announced in December.

“I’m sorry the process has been kick-started the way it has, but that is how governments sometimes have to work. We have to balance the interests of everyone,” he said.

"Of course it is uncomfortable. I am fully aware of the pressures and concerns this has caused," he said.

"Unrealistic" to assume sector cannot cope with cuts

Mr Burt stressed it is "unrealistic" to assume that the sector cannot find £170m worth of efficiencies in its £2.8bn budget. 

"The idea that no positive change is possible if you reduce funding is simply not true," he said. 

The government will ensure that the "best services on the high street" are preserved, Mr Burt said.

He also referred to his first interview with C+D, in which he was asked if pharmacy would be safe from NHS efficiencies. “I knew pharmacy could play a part,” Mr Burt said. “The context [of the cuts] has been set by the overall settlement with the Department and the Treasury."

Pharmacy lawyers told C+D last week that contractors could challenge the government on whether it is engaged in a “genuine consultation” on the cuts. 

What do you make of Mr Burt's comments?

We want to hear your views, but please express them in the spirit of a constructive, professional debate. For more information about what this means, please click here to see our community principles and information


Philip Caton, Community pharmacist

The government whine about the increase in pharmacy contractors over recent years. Well whose fault is that? 100 hour pharmacies should never have been allowed. Surely it should be last in first out or a rational pharmacy needs assement. We've been here since 1899 why should we go?


Nalin Shah, Community pharmacist

i hear costabucksdonaldsbetfair are looking for premises..., maybe us pharmacists should retrain as baristas and instead of mur's carry out cur's--caffiene use reviews!


Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

Not quite the new services I'd imagined but more meaningful than some of the stuff posted at times!

Sami Khaderia, Non healthcare professional


P M, Community pharmacist

if the cuts take place and the est payment does go, they would have to allow 100 hr pharmacies to reduce their hours this i think will be pushed for by the supermarkets as they have a lot of them.


Colin Pickles, Community pharmacist

If the establishment payment does go , what will stop the Government doing a u turn and opening up the market to a free for all again. It would be win win win for them.More pharmacies to reduce the pressure on the overworked ones that survived the cuts and a reduction in  the graduate unemployment levels all without spending a penny more .Is this their end game?

P M, Community pharmacist

could be re distrubution of the global sum , lpc contracts  for all pharmacies hours set by local area teams ... etc

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

These 'developments' are all very natural and expected. Of course,  the discerning members of the profession understand that the RPSGB is wholly responsible for this. A vile organisation that murdered the very profession it was supposed to represent. Such was the contempt, hatred from the members was actually worn with pride by the society apparatchiks. We never recovered from this and this is why I am continually surprised by those who are now surprised,  all very old news I'm afraid.  

Farmer Cyst, Community pharmacist

Ah what's the fucking point any more?

Chris Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Farmer Cyst, best comment I've ever read on here.

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

A concise, forthright summary of what most of us feel today.

Mr Pharmacist!, Pharmaceutical Adviser

I think most of us feel like Farma Cyst.  These fools who led us down this stupid path, the likes of Sharpe, Soni etc and their....*chums like Burt and Ridge*.  As for all those nasty spineless buying groups and wholesalers who wanted to use us for their own gains, along with the useless PSNC, RPS, Pharmacy Voice.  These are run by basic fools.  They are complete disgrace.  Narcasistic, self serving so and so's.  On top of that having a nasty regulator who piles on red tape.  Its just plain disgusting. Whats the point.  Locum salaries are reflection of the devaluation of our profession.  All these monkeys who were self proclaimed leaders, I'd hang my head in discgrace.  You sold us down the river.  I couldnt believe what I saw earlier on Soni saying that the RPS will take a different angle.  Mate you need to be sacked quick, otherwise members are going to vote with their wallets.  Discgraceful!!!!!!!!!  Its obvious from these boards, that the profession is crying out for some solid leadership, not watered down crap that we have on offer.  Take the fight to the government, let them know, we'll take these cuts, buts thats it.  No more FREE anything.  Forget services, foget that nonsense.  Lets see when patients stop getting a free this and free that, and let them then go and raise the ante.  Burt, I can understand, is spineless politician, but Ridge...he's a disgrace to our profession, the RPS should strip him immediately of his FRPS.  He should be castigated and made to feel unwelcome in our profession.  ***  As for that Soni, inviting Burt to his "shop"and getting that cheesy photo op with Gidley, that made my blood boil!!  Is he that insensitive to the mood of our profession.  He's def living in cloud cookoo land!! 

*This comment has been edited to comply with C+D's community principles

Paul Samuels, Community pharmacist

Personally I think you are being too polite!!!

I had this argument with a head of an old PCT--no more money=no more services.--& he asked if I would join PCT --my reply was unprintable.

Mr Pharmacist!, Pharmaceutical Adviser

It's time people realised the profession is screwed and just resigned en masse and looked for other career paths.  It's the worst profession to be in.  Soooo much red tape, unfavourable working conditions, being led by clowns and regulated by snipers.  Save the hassle and just retire membership from this nonsense of a so-called profession.  Its a disgrace, how many more times can I say this.  This is one example that truly goes to show that hard work does NOT pay.

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

The move to the pseudo-clinical services of the 2005 contract was the beginning of the end. We gave up any negotiating position at that point. Have pharmacists been asleep for the last decade? If that contract had been negotiated on the basis that any clinical services had to have 1) exceedingly strong evidence for cost-effectiveness (making them defensible long-term income streams) 2) enforceable quality standards (making them commercial target proof)  3) associated work flows that gave pharmacists additional protected hours (ensuring safe workloads) and 4) payment through new money, then we would not be in this position. When these four key requirements were espoused by any pharmacist at the time, they were slammed down as Luddites living in the past. We have been proven correct.


Farmer Cyst, Community pharmacist

Nevermind 2005. In 2015 (when I could still stomach reading the endless bad news that the C+D was obligated to report) there were still the usual mugs chiming in on here how they were basically deluding themselves their occupation had any sort of future by doing psuedo-clinical services at a loss (services which were duplicating work already done by other health care professionals).


Anyone who pointed out that the money was still in volume were told they were luddites, and that they should 'get out if they couldn't stand the change'. Hilarious in retrospect, and I don't see the same shiny trousered wearing fools deluding themselves that they're clinicians these days. Even they seem to have got the message after this last round of cuts.

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

All who mentioned that MURs and NMS were a complete waste of time back then were told to leave the profession and leave it to 'real' pharmaacists. What a joke.

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

Totally agree Shaun. So if there are to be cuts should they not fall first and foremost on those such services, specifically MURs and NMSs? I don't believe they meet any of the 4 key requirements you mention.


Hemant Patel, Community pharmacist

Burt apologies for cuts announcement. He is showing a great deal of humility and we should acknowledge that quality and find ways to constructively engage with him. Instead of insults and threats this is a moment to engage and show him where pharmacy can help him find £170 million. His Department has to find it he money - not necessarily community pharmacy. If we show that reducing waste, attacking discounts etc can help him build a case. Also, we need clarification on whether it is the savings they are looking for or productivity. Could we at least for the part of the £170 m saving provide MAS and retain the money in the global a sum? Pls also note the point made in this letter from NEL LPC.

Yuna Mason, Sales

Hemant, offering to deliver more services in exchange for retaining part of the global sum is the way the PSNC has negotiated for years, as far as I can tell. The coal-facing profession is at breaking point already, what's the point of accepting additional workload in order to stop the cuts? It's just the same thing as accepting funding cuts, except the work doesn't get delivered effectively and it lines the pockets of the rich.

Hemant Patel, Community pharmacist

So, you would rather have a cut which sets a new lower baseline? Or, a higher baseline with more work? Ideally, I would like more money, less work, good pension and high status. But, I'm forced to be a pragmatist. It is to call for more but at a time of belt tightening it is good to be in a job. Imagine, what the consequences would be if the miners had asked for funds to reskill instead of a destructive strike! 

Hemant Patel, Community pharmacist

So, you would rather have a cut which sets a new lower baseline? Or, a higher baseline with more work? Ideally, I would like more money, less work, good pension and high status. But, I'm forced to be a pragmatist. It is to call for more but at a time of belt tightening it is good to be in a job. Imagine, what the consequences would be if the miners had asked for funds to reskill instead of a destructive strike! 

Harry Tolly, Pharmacist

I had a read of the link. Essentially, its telling me the same old story. Now, please read the link below and understand what it means. The DoH has had a plan to take Pharmacy in a certain direction. Its patently obvious that the PSNC has been the obstacle. The article is from 5 years ago.  So for 5 years we have heard nothing from PSNC about how the profession moves forward or re-engineeering  the contract so that its fit for modern purpose. Therein lies the real problem . The lack of engagement by the PSNC and its cloudy workings behind closed doors. No transparency. No dialogue with the WHOLE profession. ....................................................................................................................................................................... ......

"""""Ms Cox called for the business model for all community health services to be looked at and said of community pharmacy: "If we start from where we are we just can't get to the right place – you almost have to start with a blank sheet of paper."

The contract needed "more than a tweak", agreed Healthy Living Pharmacy project lead Deborah Evans.

But Ms Sharpe warned that shifting funding in a radical way would have an impact on pharmacy contractors.

"We wanted to establish a funding model that wouldn't have a massive impact on contractors around the country and every single model we looked at fell down on that point," she revealed."""""""


HAS ANYONE in the profession seen these "models". Who has had a say in whether they are appropriate or not ? Smoke filled rooms  deciding the future of OUR PROFESSION.  Not good is it ?

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Where are those supporters of the 2005 contract? Where are the 'bright clinical future'      brigade? Where are the 'you must get involved to make a difference' zealots? Where are they now? Not a word from them. A decade of peddling utter nonsense, slurring every realist a 'Luddite'. Let the record of history be crystal clear - YOU HAVE BEEN PROVEN ABSOLUTELY WRONG IN EVERY SINGLE THING YOU PROCLAIMED. 

Hemant Patel, Community pharmacist

Shaun, say it again and loudly. In NE London we said at the time that we are storing up trouble and it has. Then we said that PSNC's 5 Point Plan was a joke on the contractors and it has been proved right. The next version is marginally better, but only marginally. 

Harry Tolly, Pharmacist

Will you lead a campaign for a Judicial Review and a fairer distribution of the Global Sum especially as London pharmacies will more than likely be hit the worst ?

Hemant Patel, Community pharmacist

Wait and see. Persuasion should be tried first. In due course, escalation of action should be considered if there is unfairness and there are reasonable chances of success (otherwise you will,throwing good money after bad). But, at a carefully planned and measured way. People should stop blaming RPS; it cannot sue as it is not a pharmacy owner that is affected. But, it is wrong for RPS to act as spokesperson for DH's spokesperson to curry favours. 'RPS or RPS SPOKESPERSON SAID Minister's hands are tied' what a disgrace! If you cannot help, shut up.

Harry Tolly, Pharmacist

In NE London, you have at least 100 independents. If they all chipped in 1k each (peanuts in context to the 6%) you have a decent fighting fund.  The firm linked below already has all the arguments for the BMA. Contact them first as they seem a very safe and empathetic pair of hands.


Farmer Cyst, Community pharmacist

I don't blame anyone who can't be bothered. Anyone in a position to mount any sort of effective campaign for a judicial review probably has the means and opportunities to just get out of Pharmacy.


Look at the contents of the article above, why put yourself through the stress - it's a done deal.

Amjad Khan, Senior Management

We need a strategy to take this to court.... for the independents at least. 


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