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NPA to look into ‘legal avenues’ over pharmacy funding cuts

Ian Strachan: This is far from over

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) is “urgently” seeking safeguards against the impact of the cuts, after the government’s confirmation of a 12% drop in funding.

Chairman Ian Strachan vowed to carry on the lobby group's anti-cuts fight “with renewed conviction”, in an emergency Facebook chat with members last night (October 20), as pharmacists came to terms with the government’s “modernisation” plans for the sector.

Mr Strachan reassured community pharmacists that the battle against the cuts "is far from over”. The NPA is considering “a range of options” for its next steps, including “legal avenues”, he said.

“The government has made its intentions clear; let’s make ours,” Mr Strachan said in the Facebook announcement. “We will continue to campaign because it is the right thing to do.”

Speaking to C+D today (October 21), NPA head of communications Stephen Fishwick said the association is “taking professional advice – including political, regulatory and legal – on all the options available to us.”

“We don’t want to show our hand just yet, but there are still things to play for and avenues to explore,” he stressed.

Mr Strachan said “the recent concession on hub and spoke dispensing showed that it is possible to get politicians to change course”. He added he is hopeful that with a “united front” from the sector, “there is still a chance to influence government thinking”.

'Could have of been worse'

Many pharmacists contacted the NPA overnight, “angry” at the government’s announcement but also seeking “practical support” on what to do next, Mr Fishwick told C+D.

“Just think how much worse the situation could have been if we rolled over at the beginning and accepted all this nonsense,” he said. “The determined efforts of the sector and of patients has certainly been worthwhile and it is important to keep together and keep pushing back against this direction of travel.”

The NPA advised community pharmacists to “examine your numbers and review your wider business affairs, to make sure you are fit for the future”.

It will be producing a number of business “proposals and resources” to support the sector in the comming weeks.

The RPS response

In a statement yesterday, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English pharmacy board chair Sandra Gidley said “we know that the profession needs more from us at this time”.

“It remains to be seen if the [pharmacy access scheme] will lessen the impact on opening hours and staffing levels in vital community pharmacies,” she added.

She added the society was “dismayed there is now less certainty about the long term status of [the pharmacy integration fund]”.

Ms Gidley said the RPS is making sure community pharmacists receive “practical support to plan for the change that will begin on December 1st”.


What should the sector's next steps be?

Nat Mitchell, Community pharmacist

Time for David Reissner to give back a little maybe...

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

NPA = all talk, no action.

Mike Hewitson, Superintendent Pharmacist

£57m concession won from Govt.

Two threatened legal actions lead to Hub & Spoke not going forward (as far as we know). 

Commissioned important market research.

Largest petition in healthcare history. 

Huge amounts of lobbying - most visible presence at Tory and Labour conferences.

Front page of national newspapers, national TV, radio, local TV & radio coverage.

Dozens of Parliamentary Questions, three Parliamentary debates, one Urgent Question, several PMQs. 

That is what NPA has done over the last 10 months.

There is more to come. We have, and will continue to fight on behalf of the sector. 

Tim Elmes, Community pharmacist

100 hour pharmacies are going to struggle to survive with these cuts. Reducing the number of hours they had to open, say to 70 hours per week would help these pharmacies alot. If government wants out of hour coverage they will have to do something because alot are going to close.

Dodo pharmacist, Community pharmacist

They opened under a loophole and must never be allowed to reduce their hours.They knew the risks when opening and often  leapfroggeed other existing pharmacies. Now the chickens are coming home to roost.

Matthew Edwards, Community pharmacist

Most of the 100 hour pharmacies were exploiting a loophole in the regulations to get a contract in areas where the PNA said pharmacy provision was sufficient.  Therefore they knew what they were taking on and should not be allowed to reduce their hours because the first ones they will cut are the out of hours coverage if allowed to go to 70 hours. 

Graham Morris, Design

In my opinion, the 100 hour pharmacies were devised by government to allow supermarkets to penetrate the market in preparation for long term hub and spoke. Open many hours, excellent parking and visited by most people frequently. Also, as long as the pharmacy creates more profit per square metre than selling baked beans, they will be happy. They will be able to sustain any remuneration cuts. 

John Urwin, Community pharmacist


Simon MEDLEY, Community pharmacist

We're trying to argue with a government ruled by an ideology of austerity and shrinking of the state. Evidence means nothing if it conflicts with their beliefs.


Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

Have you written to your MP and to Number 10? Mrs May has basically shelved austerity and is moving very much away from the Cameron/Osborne agenda. You also need to look at this from an outsiders point of view, like a government minister. In a small town near myself, there are 5 pharmacies on one high street. 2 of them being 100 hour pharmacies that were never needed. This policy is really an exercise in reversing Tony Blair's policy of allowing more pharmacies, many in areas where they were not needed, to open. 

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

It's beyond redemption now and protests will be in vain. We're all doomed Captain Mainwaring....doomed I said

Robert Miller, Pharmacy technician

Ask David Reissner to mount a legal challenge. 

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