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How is the NPA fighting the cuts over the summer?

NPA: "We cannot afford to relax our efforts"

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has urged members to keep up the pressure while MPs are on summer recess

The Department of Health (DH) told C+D this week (August 9) it is still unable to confirm the timeframe for the planned £170 million cut to pharmacy funding in England – after it missed its own July deadline to announce final details of the sector’s funding.

NPA chairman Ian Strachan said the delayed announcement “does not necessarily signify a change in position by DH officials or NHS England”.

“We cannot afford to relax our efforts,” Mr Strachan told C+D.

He stressed that the NPA has developed campaign tools to help pharmacists “re-engage” with MPs over their summer recess.

“Representations are continuing at a local level too, and we are starting to see local patient groups become engaged,” he said.

The NPA has “built up a support base” to sustain “an ongoing fight”, he said. “We do not intend to squander this position by sitting back, crossing our fingers and trusting everything to fate.”

Keep in touch

Pharmacy Voice told C+D that it has “remained in contact” with DH officials since the July deadline passed. It expects to meet with the new pharmacy minsiter David Mowat “in due course” to discuss the future of the sector.

The lobbying group also emphasised the importance of providing contractors with some certainty about their future funding arrangements.

Sandra Gidley, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English pharmacy board told C+D the society also has a meeting “in the pipeline” with Mr Mowat, where it hopes to discuss “how community pharmacists can be better integrated into new models of care”.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee reiterated it has written to the minister and will continue to campaign against the “ill-advised proposals”.


What should be the sector's plan of action be next?

A.S. Singh, Community pharmacist

the cuts will go ahead, despite the best efforts of the NPA and independents. The cuts would still go ahead even if WW3 was to break out

Ben Merriman, Community pharmacist

The announcement to the cuts has been delayed but that could simply be because of the huge change at Westminster.  Health Secretary still there but working with new Ministers (& Juniors) under him and a new Prime Minister above him.  This delay gives us more time to show why they are sorely mistaken in cutting community pharmacy funding.  

And for me this is way more than looking after my own lot; it's more time to get patients, patient groups, local politicians, care organisations and MPs and anyone else concerned on side.  These are the people that the Government will listen to, that will suffer if up to 3,000 pharmacies close and that the government are concerned about.

b t, Manager

The cuts could be distributed to fall on the strongest thus mitigating the need for any closures. There are 3000 pharmacies doing more than 10k items per month and this is where the cuts need to bite as they seldom employ more than on RP at a time.

Alternatively, the discount scale for multiples could be discounted more to take into account their greater buying power.

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

Encouraging the public to sign petitions, handing 'dear patient' cards to customers to initiate conversations on 'the cuts', writing letters to MPs, telling your story, completing a 'short survey' (well it'll only take 5 mins...), posting on twitter, sharing Facebook pages...

Where in God's name will I get time to do all this?! How about the NPA getting behind a campaign to reduce pharmacist's workloads and pressures?

Ben Merriman, Community pharmacist

To put it bluntly (and I am well aware that this won't be popular!) if the government have their way and close up to 3,000 pharmacies, most of which are likely to be in deprived areas, plenty of pharmacists will have no workload or stress to worry about, none at all.  

We have to fight harder than we've ever fought before because we have a fabulous network of community pharmacies in England providing first class care to patients.  The NPA (and PSNC) are a body representing community pharmacies; ultimately, it's the job of the RPS and the PDA to represent pharmacists.

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

Ben, the government aren't closing any pharmacies. They are implementing cuts which will reduce contractors income. My boss drives a Bentley - times can't be that tough. If such doom and gloom is impending, why isn't the price of pharmacies falling? I know colleages trying to buy recently and they have been shocked at asking prices. Perhaps what we need is a total melt down in the sector, mass exit and something else, anything else, to emerge from the ashes? Because at the moment, there is absolutely nothing, zilch, nada to encourage anybody in the profession who's qualified in the last few years. It's a game of two halves as they say - contractors and the rest of us...

Dodo pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Well said Ben, I 100% agree with you. It seems as though because the cuts final announcement has been delayed, a lot of pharmacists are beginning to think it won't happen to them- but it will. Many contractors and employees have no conception of the maelstrom that will descend when the cuts are made. If 3000 pharmacies close, thats over 30,000 people made unemployed, including 3000 pharmacists. For those that are left in jobs, a 25% workload increase will quickly occur, with a commensurate 6% at least drop in pay.

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

I think any pharmacist with a jot of common sense is making their exit plans. I know I am. I personally see no future in community pharmacy in the UK for the employee pharmacist. Anbody that can exit should. Last out, turn off the lights...

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