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Pharmacy funding cuts: The sector's reaction

John D'Arcy: Pharmacy will be reeling from the announcement

Numark chief John D'Arcy says the government's decision to reduce funding for 2016-17 by £170 million is an "outright insult"

Pharmacy bodies and readers have unanimously slammed the government's decision to slash the global sum of pharmacy funding by 6% as an "assault" on the sector.

The Department of Health (DH) and NHS England plan to cut funding by at least £170 million in October 2016, they announced yesterday (December 17). This will reduce funding from the current level of £2.8bn to “no higher" than £2.63bn, they said.

You can read a roundup of the reaction below, and find C+D's full coverage of the cuts here.

National Pharmacy Association

Chair Ian Strachan said the cuts will "severely hamper" pharmacists' ability to serve patients. 

"[This] looks like an assault on the very part of the health system that holds the key to solving many of its problems. The NPA and our members will not take this lying down," he said.

Royal Pharmaceutical Society

RPS English Pharmacy Board chair Sandra Gidley said the "short-sighted" cuts will have a "substantial impact" on pharmacy businesses.

"This news will make community pharmacists feel completely undervalued, at a time when we are all working incredibly hard," she said.


Managing director John D'Arcy said it is "inevitable" that some pharmacies will close as a result of the cuts, and claimed that this is the government's intention.

"[The DH's] letter is a slap in the face to a sector and represents a clear disincentive to invest in enhancing service delivery. More importantly, it creates a real risk to the continuity and quality of services to patients," he said.

Pharmacy Voice

Chief executive Rob Daracott said the cuts are "certain to hurt the sector". 

"Many contractors, currently in the midst of the Christmas rush, will be rightly anxious as to how this £170m cut will affect their patients, their businesses, their livelihoods and those of their pharmacy teams and other employees," he said.

C+D readers

Readers took to the C+D website and Twitter to vent their frustration, with many saying the cuts would mean some pharmacies will no longer be viable.

Superintendent pharmacist Max Falconer said the changes will "sweep away community pharmacy as we know it".

"I think we could easily lose half the pharmacies, and the remainder will be glorified parcel collection centres," he said.

Pre-registration student Ali Mansour said the cuts would see owners take a "step back" from investing in their pharmacy. "This 6% cut represents a reduction in the gross profit of a pharmacy business which is used to pay all the staff salaries, rent and keep the lights on," he said.

Community pharmacist Dilip Shah called on pharmacist to "make a stand" and said the sector should consider striking.

"This government is too quick to dictate, without any long term strategy or thought," he added.

Read the best of the Twitter reactions below


Make your voice heard by sharing your thoughts below this story, or on Twitter using #pharmacycuts.


How will the 6% cut affect you?

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


Jignesh Patel, Community pharmacist

We need to run campaign to get the public on our side. Every pharmacy in the country should set up petition. A window sign with various messages. A 6% cut could mean your local pharmacy will close down. A 6% cut could mean no more free services like free delivery and collection, free repeat management service , free mds units, local unemployment as staff may need to made redundant, longer prescription processing times, lower stock holding to manage cash flow leading to longer lead times to fully complete prescriptions. We need a save your local pharmacy the essential local community hub for health.

Ms B Wilson, Pharmaceutical Adviser

This is why people have a short memory where voting Conservatives in as if you do not have the money then tough!! Totally right wing arguement answers (sorry) - just take a look a the world we do not have quite a D Trump attitude but the world including here is full of them. You know you have an ageing population, you must know that there are way more vulnerable people in society and it is only going to get worse due to policy making for reasons given, therefore more needs as everything is connected, more alcohol, drugs, food dependency with all it's issues and increases in deterioration of people's mental health as they struggle to cope in the world dictated to by the few who have no concept of what is really going on, or if they do do not actually care- why would they, they have the means. But beware bad health does not discriminate!! Earlier pathologies and non-reponsive to treatment for some of our medical conditions that are largely life-style dependent. Does not paint a pretty picture at all - and all pointing to the American way of insurance for treatments - eventually and the £ sign before everything, even balance... You have highly qualified, professionals such as Pharmacists and instead of supporting the industry to work in a more cohesive and integrated way with Drs. GP and other health workers etc. Cuts...

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

It was the Labour Party who introduced the perverse target culture in the NHS and supported the large scale acquisitions of pharmacies by the vertically integrated corporate giants. New Labour and Modern Conservatives are the essentially the same party. It is not party political, it is cultural and we are given the illusion of choice by the political culture. As you have pointed out, a corporate management culture now pervades much of life in Britain and in my opinion is responsible for much of stress and anxiety found in modern life. This has indeed been imported from America: a culture that thinks taking just 8 days holidays a year is fulfilling, that thinks lunch breaks are for wimps, that thinks working extra hours for no pay makes you a 'committed' worker and that thinks healthcare is not a right but a privilege for those who can afford it. Britain is, to use a cliche, the 51st state and working for a corporate giant in this country is indistinguishable (from the reading of blogs of American pharmacists) from working for the likes of Walmart.

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Hold on, the per item payment has gone down over the years, but the number of items has doubled without an associated increase in capital or operational expenditure. Service provision is zero cost because employees have been expected to absorb the workload. Wages have fallen and staff numbers have remained static or fallen. A unique monopoly is still gifted to a privileged few. If pharmacy is such a bad business, why are the corporate owners and Mr Patel so very keen to buy pharmacies? The corporate owners will ensure that pharmacists and their staff will absorb this 6% cut, the government will continue to gift a monopoly in return.

Sue Per, Locum pharmacist

Spot on, Time to change the contracts, to Named pharmacists, and multiple ownership abolished!!- Corporate greed removed.

Pharmacy HLP, Manager

We all find it hard not to help immediately we are asked but PLEASE REFER ALL PATIENTS TO 111 when they run out of their medication. When I ask for urgent prescriptions they can take many days to materialise, but we cant see people without so we keep seeing what we can do to sort things out. Best send patients to the surgery and ask them to get the doctor to sort the situation. We should not re-evaluate what we provide for free. I am guilty of helping too much .I am going to have to temper my enthusiasm.

Community Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Maybe for a week or so we should STOP giving pharmaceutical advice (OTC or otherwise) and pass all queries to surgeries (without stopping dispensing). Pharmacists main skill is giving valuable advice that saves surgeries and hospitals a lot of time. Imagine if surgeries were bogged down with simple queries like conjunctivitis for a week. This would bring the whole healthcare system down without us actually striking per se. This would only work if EVERY pharmacy stopped giving pharmaceutical advice.

Brian Perry, Locum pharmacist

Now we know where the money for the junior Dr's 11% pay rise will be coming from.

Marc Borson, Community pharmacist

Instead of striking we should at least discourage prospective pharmacists from taking the degree course and also refuse to train pre regs. By training pre regs we are encouraging intelligent graduates to follow a very dismal career path. It would be in their interest. There are some good points to the DoH plan, as we may see some pharmacies offer to locate away from surgeries in order to remain on the list. Anti-Leap-frogging. We can solve the issue in some simple steps. 1. Prevent prescribing NHS GP Providers from owning more than 2% stakes in, being on the board of or being an employee of an NHS community Pharmacy - as an anti-competitive behaviour, abuse of dominance and conflict of interest. 2. Reduce dispensing doctor practises in favour of distance selling pharmacy 3. Allow pharmacies in a cluster to relocate to unserviced areas within 1Km. 4. Close all 100 hour contracts in the lowest 50% dispensing by offering an exit payment 5. Offer exit payments to all CP. £50,000 without any legal costs, taxation, claw back, indemnity risk, could be worth it to a lot contractors that want to retire. This should appease the treasurer for now.

Harry Tolly, Pharmacist

A perfect opportunity for external off shore chains to divest themselves of this "business" and leave it to onshore tax paying individual pharmacists. Do you think they will do that ? Ask yourself whyever not ? Its a business after all and they can deploy their capital anywhere, so why don't they ? Not rocket science is it.

Paul Miyagi, Information Technology

It will be interesting to see how the multiples such as Boots will react as they have no proper staffing levels to operate as it is to max their profits . Maybe they'll make the pharmacists re-negotiate their contract salary so there's a net reduction ? Wouldn't put it past them ? Already rumors of such like .

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