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Pharmacy is financially 'on its knees', PSNC tells government

Simon Dukes: It would be irresponsible of me not to tell the DH what state the sector is in
Simon Dukes: It would be irresponsible of me not to tell the DH what state the sector is in

Community pharmacy is on its knees financially, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has told the government during funding talks.

PSNC CEO Simon Dukes said the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) “needs to understand what the state of the sector is”.

“I visit a lot of pharmacies and I'm in no doubt…there is no more money to be squeezed out,” he told C+D last week (May 22) after speaking at the Healthcare Distribution Association conference in London.

Mr Dukes has heard about “a number of businesses…either [getting into] debt, using reserves or borrowing money, placing stress on contractors and their families”, he said.

It would be “irresponsible” not to tell the DH about these issues, and “irresponsible” for the DH not to listen, he continued. “It’s part of the dialogue that we should rightly have.”

“Cautious optimism” about negotiations

Mr Dukes has “cautious optimism” about the negotiations for a new pharmacy contract, which officially began last month.

The tone of discussions so far has been “collaborative”, with both the DH and PSNC entering them with a “positive frame of mind”, he said.

Mr Dukes said in an exclusive blog for C+D earlier this month that there are some barriers to trust from both pharmacy and the government.

Read the blog in full to see the big items up for discussion in ongoing funding talks.

How is your pharmacy coping with the funding pressures?

geoffrey gardener, Community pharmacist

PSNC might tell the goverment that pharmacy is on its knees, but evidence from sale of pharmacies tells a different tale, values supposedly up over 8% in 2018, and the market remaining buoyant. Difficult to plead poverty when more and more entrepreneurs and businesses are throwing increasing amounts of cash at the supposed sinking ship.

Tony Schofield, Community pharmacist

Simon Dukes can’t win. He is not responsible for the current mess and he has an unnecessary burden on him to deliver at a time when things are so bad for so many that Mr Dukes is their only hope. Everyone knows what is expected. Purely supplying medication is not our future. Many pharmacists are not happy about that and will choose to try and attack Mr Dukes as his results start to emerge. But with the crisis in GP recruitment, practice nurse recruitment in reverse and primary care creaking, it’s a no brainer to use us more. If we don’t deliver it Won’t be Mr Dukes fault. But of course many will pass to him, the blame

Hemant Patel, Community pharmacist

Until community pharmacy gets a critically important msg there would be pain. And, the msg is this: the DH/NHS are moving from expecting community pharmacy to dispense medicines safely to improving health and wellbeing outcomes.  This means de-prescribing as well as using pharmacological and non-pharmacological means to improve health outcomes.

There is the future strategy in a few words. Bang on about safe dispensing only and we will see a painful crush with thousands unemployed. 

How to future-proof: enroll on a free post-grad diploma courses at eg Bath University.

I expect some flak from those who think that ability to fog a mirror and a BPharm degree is all you need to practice as a modern pharmacist. Say what you like. You wont get a response. Use the time to upgrade the clinical skills like 150 people in NE London's Clinical Army that is readying itself for a more secure future.

Caring Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Further cuts are inevitable from the tone of PSNC. MURs payments ,Practice Payments and NMS payments are all under threat.

Until 3000 or more pharmacies are closed DoH will continue to squeeze every penny.

DoH has made it clear that NHS needs to save money for its survival.

Strong case for Pharmacy is needed than currently being put DoH by PSNC


Richard Lee, Community pharmacist

Remember, this is stated government policy:

 "the then health minister Alistair Burt suggested between 1,000 and 3,000 pharmacies could be closed after spending cuts"

Back when this round of cuts started in 2016, they didn't want clusters of pharmacies within a 10 minute walk according to Jeremy Hunt.
I remember talking to colleagues 3 years ago and describing a situation that would be so bad for everyone, that 3000 of my fellow pharmacists decide to pack it in and just close their community pharmacies.

I'm not sure we've seen anything yet...

Community Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Years of Tory policies ....anti pharmacy shambolic party more interested in funding their moat cleaning services than the health service ....get them out,time for change


CAPT FX, Locum pharmacist

Which is where they belong. So this man is the CEO of the committee that negotiated for us. Where was he when we slowly sank to our knees? He is probably one of those non-Pharmacy "Professionals" with no clue whatsoever of the Profession. Now that he has failed on the negotiating table, he is making noises all over the place. Do I need to say that the Deputy Chair of this Committee is The Superintendent Pharmacist of ASDA. There you have it. What are our chances of reversing this process? Absolutely zero. Is there another superlative that goes further than "being down to your knees"? Dead and buried, I suppose

Peter Smith, Student

Well the pharmacy profession has been on "palliative care" for several years now. And to be fair to this guy, it was Ms Sharpe who did the most damage.

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Pharmacy is financially 'on its knees', PSNC tells government


Which is right where they want you.

Alexander The Great, Community pharmacist

Can you negotiate the powers to go on strike!?

Reeyah H, Community pharmacist

Bit worrying that he’s telling them ‘no more money to squeeze’. Does that mean if we remain on the current unsustainable funding, with no cuts, we should be eternally grateful? Hope I’m wrong. 

Community Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

They found funding quick enough to bribe NI MPs in order to stay in power not so long ago....Tories out !!!

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Similar to how governments always seem to find money down the back of a sofa to fund bombing campaigns of brown people in foreign lands........

Peter Smith, Student

Funding will never go back up. It will either stay the same and be eroded by inflation or take another actual reduction. I suspect the latter.

Peter Smith, Student

Well done to him for speaking the truth, however, how he negotiates the new contract will be infinitely more important than these few words. Doing better than Sue already though.

Somehow I suspect his negotiations re: the new contract will fail on all levels, just going on experience with the PSNC.

Of course DH will enter negotiations in a positive state of mind - they are presumably thinking they can get away with more cuts! And they know that the PSNC are about as much use as condoms in a nunnery, so they will get what they want.

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