In its letter breaking the news to pharmacy stakeholders, the Department of Health (DH) also confirmed that its funding negotiations would conclude at the end of this month, the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) told C+D.
The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) confirmed it had been invited by the DH to re-enter negotiations, and chief executive Sue Sharpe said the negotiator is looking to the government to take a “new approach”.
NPA chairman Ian Strachan questioned how a “few weeks’ notice” was “adequate time” for the pharmacy sector to prepare for the changes.
“In what sense is a brief negotiation behind closed doors the ongoing dialogue we were promised just days ago?” Mr Strachan asked.
Pharmacy minister David Mowat should open a “genuine dialogue” with the sector about the way forward, added Mr Strachan, who stressed the NPA would write to health secretary Jeremy Hunt and his ministers asking for “urgent assurances”.
Although the government confirmed the cuts announcement would be delayed last week, Mr Mowat made it clear at a PSNC event two days later that community pharmacy should not expect to escape efficiency savings.