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MPs urge fund to 'shield' independents from cuts and drug price hikes

Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron tabled the proposal for a debate last week
Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron tabled the proposal for a debate last week

A proposal for a parliamentary debate calling for a fund for independent pharmacies aims to “protect a vital service” for “vulnerable members of our communities”, an MP has said.

Christine Jardine, Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West who is sponsoring the proposal for a debate – known as an early day motion – said yesterday (February 7) that pharmacies provide “an essential service in communities”, and stressed “prescription drugs can be an expensive commodity”.

Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron tabled the early day motion last week (January 29) asking the government to fund independent community pharmacies to save them from the “scandal” of cash flow issues.

The Essential Community Pharmacy Scheme – which is detailed in the early day motion – would comprise funding for community pharmacies which are located four miles from another one "and/or" are independent or part of a small chain, a spokesperson for Mr Farron told C+D.

The scheme would be fleshed out by civil servants, with input from pharmacists, saving money in the long-run by taking pressure off A&E services, the spokesperson added.

The parliamentary motion has currently been supported by 10 MPs from four political parties – Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party and the Democratic Unionist Party.

According to parliament.uk, early day motions can be used to demonstrate the level of parliamentary support for a particular cause and put on record the views of individual MPs. There is no specific time allocated to these motions and although "very few" are debated, "many attract a great deal of public interest and media coverag".

“Pharmacies losing thousands of pounds a month”

“Community pharmacies here in the South Lakes [area of Cumbria] are losing thousands of pounds every month just for providing a vital NHS service,” Mr Farron said.

“The erosion of NHS payments means that they often don't cover their basic drug costs, let alone the very many running costs they face,” he continued.

“This is clearly unsustainable and many of our local community pharmacies may be forced to close unless urgent action is taken by the government to shield community pharmacists from the high cost demanded by the big drug companies.”

A support group for locums has also written a letter for pharmacists to send to their local MP, urging them to back the early day motion.

Tohidul Islam, founder of agency The Locum Pharmacist Cooperative, told C+D yesterday the response to the letter has been "positive".

LPC: “Pharmacies surviving on owners’ capital”

Cumbria local pharmaceutical committee (LPC) – which covers Mr Farron's constituency – told C+D last week it favoured protecting "essential" pharmacies, “but this should not be at the expense of others.” “Additional funding is needed," it stressed.

Contractors in Cumbria are facing a “perfect storm of severe funding cuts, together with extreme challenges in purchasing medicines”, the LPC said

There are “over 100” medicines with national shortages, and contractors are dispensing them without knowing if they will be correctly reimbursed, it said.

Pharmacies are “surviving on capital being introduced by their owners”, in the hope that medicine purchase prices will return to more “normal values in due course”.

“We have identified several [pharmacies] which are at risk,” it added.

29 Comments
Question: 
Will you call on your MP to support this motion?

P M, Community pharmacist

as sue says pharmacists are working in sweat shops because of supervison regs let techs do the supervising of dispensing so pharmacists can concentrate on services,;

Charles Whitfield Bott, Pharmacist Director

Be carefull what you wish for. If you loose your USP what is the point in you. Not all services require a pharmacist. It is tempting to think that you would like to be removed from the coal face, and that you are exploited by your employer, which may be true in some cases, but employers who are prepared to exploit you at the moment will get rid of you alltogether if you are not needed.

P M, Community pharmacist

services of course.. not being tied to the dispensing bench would mean being free to do other things. at the moment i have to be at work at 9am no lunch and cant leave till 7pm .. however if i didnt have to supervise the dispensing process i could come in when  i was booked by a patient to do a service a bit like opticians ... so  in a opticians  you have a dispensing option which could be the equivalent of our dipensing tech and then an opthalmic optician the person who does eye tests etc .. works great no dispensing pressures .. just booked mur nms bp health checks etc...

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

your wage will halve to something like £7 per hour. Is that legal? okay you will earn min wage if you're 'lucky' enough to avoid redundancy.

Charles Whitfield Bott, Pharmacist Director

I dont think that that is enough to pay your wages. BP and health check dont need to be done by a pharmacist, so you are left with MUR NMS and Flu Vac. MUR is only 11k a year, if I was employing you I would want you to bring in at least twice what I was paying you. Esentialy you need to earn £50 an hour in fees for every hour you were in work. Do you think you could do that and be under less pressure than you are now?

Wolverine 001 , Pharmacist Director

err what services are you gonna provide like an optician??? This is a smokescreen to de value our profession.  Only a few pharmacies up and down the country are provide these clinical services - what is going to fill a nearly 200-300 million gap in funding - the new contract hasnt even been agreed yet!

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Minor ailments! lmao. Or you could measure my blood pressure?! lol

P M, Community pharmacist

 i would charge for my services on a daily baisis , say £300 / day - that way  i would feel better i would do less work and earn more money.

simples i dont want to work in a sweatshop factory .. 

i want to give advice to people who need it and help them by telling them about how smoking is bad for them and - do regular excerise , 

if the goverment wont pay then my employers would have to because thats what ill be charging. 

they should think of me as a loss leader , 

p

 

Graham Phillips, Superintendent Pharmacist

Forgive me but how does that comment relate to the subject under discussion? Would you prefer NOT to have support staff to help you?

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Tim Farron, the guy who can’t reconcile his religious belief (on gay issues) with his political views have spoken, for moral reasons we must all listen, not. Heheee

Wolverine 001 , Pharmacist Director

The Early Day motion only getting 13 signitures.... only a few more than the re-opening of Fishermans Bridge...good luck with this!!!

Graham Phillips, Superintendent Pharmacist

So contact all your local MPs, explain the problem and ask them for support?

Wolverine 001 , Pharmacist Director

I spoke to my local MP here in St Albans - and i have questioned their judgement and her honest repsonse was why should we subsidise prescription dispensing when you can sell shampoos and sandwiches....

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

She should be leading the GPhC or RPS. What a lady!

Mark Wood, Buying

*This comment has been deleted for breaching C+D's community principles*

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

Yet again politicians show themselves for the useless individuals they really are - wringing their hands and wailing "This is terrible, we must do something" when what they should have done was defeat the cuts in the first place.

Graham Phillips, Superintendent Pharmacist

Perhaps. But what action are you going to take to help improve this disastrous situation?

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Graham, It is not about improving 'the' situation anymore , It's now about improving 'my' situation. Find anything thing else reasonable to pay the bills. Community Pharmacy has expired. 

Wolverine 001 , Pharmacist Director

Thanks for that Mesut...as our profession is fragmented there is nothing we can do until the minds of those in the DOH can actually see the value we add.  And lets all be honest there are tooo many pharmacies around, until the number diminish nothing will change.  

A malthusian Catastrophe is going to bring about a more stable level of pharmacy numbers - let the money diminish and the rest will take care of itself.  

Mark Wood, Buying

What action am I gonna take Graham boy : 1 I won’t pull all my eggs in one basket 2. I won’t take out loans I can’t afford to re pay and then cry wolf when I don’t have a back up strategy. Remember pharmacy is a business. In business you have winners and loosers. 

Mark Wood, Buying

Internet pharmacy is a grey area...I don’t even think the GPHC know exactly the rules and regulations 

Graham Phillips, Superintendent Pharmacist

Can you explain the relevance of that seemingly random comment?

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

I think the GPhC know exactly what they're doing

Mark Wood, Buying

This is simply a numbers game. There are still too many pharmacies and the government knows this. After all the threats, only a handful have closed. As hub and scope develops and more ppl require home deliveries, the high street pharmacy will not be required as much. I’m afraid the future is pharmacy2u. 70% of rxs are repeats Which can easily be done in industrial units where rent and rates are lower and if need be ppl can drive there to pick up their medication. Why should nhs subsidise Pharmacies to stay in the high street. 

Brian Austen, Senior Management

You are obviously not aware of the regulations that prohibit patients visiting and getting 'face to face' essential services at a distance selling pharmacy (internet pharmacy) 

Mark Wood, Buying

21st century..people can phone 

Sue Per, Locum pharmacist

and also Whatsapp, skype & face-time, That is how digital healthcare providers are working!!. pharmacy is moving back in time with their proliferation and expansion of MDS sweat Shops.

P M, Community pharmacist

sue and i are on the same page

Mark Wood, Buying

*This comment has been deleted for breaching C+D's community principles*

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