Superintendent pharmacist Ade Williams told C+D that NHS England's Dr Bruce Warner had appeared “visibly quite shocked” that there were “so many” concessionary prices in December, during a visit to C+D Award-winning Bedminster Pharmacy in Bristol yesterday (January 4).
"He also [seemed] quite concerned that we're getting to the point where common generic medicines are unavailable," Mr Williams claimed.
At the beginning of December, contractors told C+D they were “highly stressed” waiting for November concessionary prices for several items, including levetiracetam and amlodipine. They were then left "sickened" when the final 53 price concessions were announced for November, which did not include much-requested felodipine.
Final additions to the 86 concessionary prices for December prescriptions were announced on Tuesday (January 3), just in time to be considered alongside that month’s payments.
Mr Williams also claimed Mr Warner left the pharmacy with an “understanding that this is bad for community pharmacy”, because it threatens supply and undermines public confidence in pharmacies.
Mr Williams was "[re]assured to note [Mr Warner's] understanding and empathy", he added.
"Financially at a loss"
"We are now financially at a loss, because we are procuring items at a high cost into the pharmacy," Mr Williams added.
“We have ongoing pressures in obtaining [certain products]. There is something that's broken about the supply system, it's financially not sustainable.”
In a statement released today, Mr Warner said: “It was a pleasure visiting Bedminster Pharmacy in Bristol.”
Integration fund seemed to "really matter" to Mr Warner
Mr Williams said the fund set aside to integrate pharmacy into the NHS seemed to “really matter” to Mr Warner.
The Department of Health set aside a £300 million Pharmacy Integration Fund in May 2016, to be invested over five years, with £42m eventually allocated for 2016-18.
NHS England is responsible for allocating money from the fund, but its chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge revealed in November that pharmacists are unlikely to receive the £42m by the end of the financial year.
Following his visit, Mr Warner said: “It was useful to discuss the significant progress being made on the pharmacy integration agenda.”
“NHS England is investing in a range of schemes to ensure pharmacists and technicians can work across wider primary care settings and relieve the pressures on GP practices and hospital admissions,” he added.
Picture left to right: Ade Williams, Diana Gitonga (pre-registration pharmacist), Lisa Fisher (Avon local pharmaceutical committee chair), Dr Bruce Warner, Steven Fung (pharmacist), Beata Mularska (technician), Shirley Jamieson (driver), and June Cambridge-Rose (healthy living pharmacy champion).
The Bedminster Pharmacy team won four C+D Awards in 2017. To enter the 2018 Awards, click below: