Last week (August 21), the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) called for pharmacy owners to “reconsider” providing services that are not part of the community pharmacy contractual framework for free.
The call to action came as PSNC branded the financial situation that pharmacies are in as “very treacherous”, and said more funding is needed for the sector.
A spokesperson for the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) told C+D on Friday (August 21) that the CCA “agrees that free services may well not be sustainable in the current financial climate and that each business will be faced with some hard decisions”.
Patient care has been a priority for pharmacies throughout the pandemic and will remain so, they added.
The representative body “fully supports PSNC’s work to negotiate funding for the full costs for contractors of operating during COVID-19 and funding for the future”, the spokesperson added.
AIMp: Funding model must reflect sector
Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies chief executive Leyla Hannbeck told C+D today (August 24) that “as pharmacy moves towards a more service-based and clinical network, the funding model will need to move to reflect these changes”.
“The sector’s credentials of access, convenience and resilience have never been so visible or effective as they are today,” she said. AIMp believes the “decision to do more for the same” should now be “superseded by real investment in the sector,” Ms Hannbeck continued.
However, a change to the funding setup to reflect the move towards a service-based pharmacy model is “unlikely to be achieved with safety and stability if, at the same time, oversimplified assumptions are being made about the cost of providing the core service,” Ms Hannbeck said.
“In our opinion, it is correct to highlight that some patient-supporting features are not sustainable indefinitely and to instigate public debate,” she added.
RPS: Government must back pharmacy with funding
Professor Claire Anderson, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society English board, told C+D today that the government “now needs to back pharmacy with fair funding, so it can continue supporting patients in the months ahead,” especially in light of the possibility of a “second wave” of COVID-19.
Community pharmacy teams “deserve to be recognised for the role they play and the services they provide”, she added.
“Free services are a lifeline to many patients”
Commenting on PSNC’s advice to contractors, Nat Mitchell, pharmacist and director of JWW Allison in Cockermouth, Cumbria said that while he agrees with the advice “in principle”, he is “not quite sure how you would put this into practice without compromising patient care and your reputation”.
“I know that many will say it’s our own fault and maybe they’re correct, but it doesn’t change the fact that free services such as deliveries are a lifeline to many patients. It just shouldn’t be us who are funding it,” he told C+D today.
Babir Malik, a community pharmacist based in Yorkshire, said the PSNC's statement is " long overdue".
"The profession, while caring, has been too nice for [its] own good," he added.