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Lords debate: Funding cuts will reduce pharmacy competition

Lord Hunt: Why does the government want to reduce patient choice?

Former pharmacy minister Lord Hunt has scrutinised the government’s attitude towards competition after it imposed "swingeing" funding cuts on the sector.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath questioned why the government wants to reduce the number of community pharmacies in the high street when the profession “can clearly help reduce demands on GPs and A&E services”.

In a parliamentary debate on Tuesday (December 6) initiated by Conservative peer Baroness Cumberlege, vice chair of the all-party pharmacy group (APPG), Lord Hunt questioned whether the £113 million cut to the sector's funding in England means the the Conservative party "no longer believes in competition".

"This policy is intended to reduce the number of community pharmacies in the high street," he said. "Why does the government want to reduce patient choice?"

In response, parliamentary under-secretary of state for health Lord Prior of Brampton said the Conservative party “does believe in competition” and stressed that paying establishment fees for pharmacies that are in "clusters" is “not a very good allocation of resources”.

More pharmacy services "over time"

Baroness Cumberlege asked how the government plans to "enhance the role of community pharmacies in providing NHS services to patients and the public".

She referenced the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) report, which highlights community pharmacy’s contribution to the NHS.

She also called for the Department of Health (DH) to "reconsider the swingeing 7.4% cut in income" that will hit the sector next year –  a figure Lord Prior said he “did not recognise”.

Lord Prior said that the government’s pharmacy funding reforms “reward quality”, integrate pharmacies with primary care, and will make "better use" of pharmacists' clinical skills.

Crossbench peer Lord Low of Dalston suggested that "rather than cutting pharmacies' budgets, the government should be commissioning more services from pharmacies".

Lord Prior repeated the DH's previous statement that the sector would not escape taking on its “share” of the £22 billion in savings required across the NHS.

"Over time, we will see more and more NHS services delivered by community pharmacies, whether it is a sore throat testing service or the treating of minor ailments," he added.

Other concerns raised during the debate included the impact the pharmacy cuts could have on rural and disadvantaged areas, and how the funding drop could make it harder for pharmacists to provide medication management services.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said it had worked to brief peers in advance of the debate.

There is support for community pharmacy from “peers across the spectrum of political parties”, including many who were unable to take part in the debate due to time constraints, PSNC added.

Read the full debate here.

7 Comments
Question: 
What do you make of the Lords debate?

S Morein, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

And contract limitation is so good for competition? The bare faced humbug is beyond belief of contractors

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

""""There is support for community pharmacy from “peers across the spectrum of political parties”, including many who were unable to take part in the debate due to time constraints, PSNC added."""

They said the same thing when the debate took place in the House of Commons, yet only 1 Conservative MP voted in favour. What is the fun of having support for the sake of debate, yet when it comes to action these supporters seem to back down !!!!

John Randell, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Why aren't chemist and druggist covering the land mark case of the Belfast pharmacist who made a dispensing error that lead to a death but was not charged with manslaughter.... Please please please get the lawyer guy from your website..Charles I think to go through this.....this is breaking news...we should have to go to the BBC for news like this.....

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

While we're all waiting...

http://www.irishnews.com/news/2016/12/07/news/overworked-pharmacist-s-tragic-error-led-to-death-of-grandmother-who-died-from-the-wrong-pills--822432/

 

Jupo Patel, Production & Technical

Sadly this will become more common but C&D and other publications will be loath to cover such stories unless it is to hang out the unfortunate individuals whilst protectecting their corporate paymasters. Students should be paying very close attention as to the wretched way they're treated by their employers and supposed 'leaders'

James Waldron, Editorial

Hi John,

Thanks for your comment. We are aware of the case, but it is hard for us to report on it in detail as we were not present at the hearing. However, our clinical editor (and practising pharmacist) Kristoffer has written up his reactions to the news, which we will be publishing on the site next week.

Regards,

James Waldron, C+D Editor

Dave Downham, Manager

...the swingeing 7.4% cut in income" that will hit the sector next year –  a figure Lord Prior said he “did not recognise”.

You must be the only one with any connection to the sector not to recognise that figure, m'lud.

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