Good grief. I can barely bring myself to write this blog. In the same week of December that the government announced it will give general practice a funding boost of at least 4% every year over the next five years, it also declared that it is planning to cut the community pharmacy budget by 6%.
True, we GPs have been underfunded and overworked for ages, and it’s not us who decide on the slice of the NHS budgetary cake. And you can bet that our funding increase will come with all sorts of seven-day, 8am to 8pm strings attached.
But I guarantee there is absolutely no schadenfreude from GPs, especially not when confronted by the harsh reality of an average funding drop of £14,500 per pharmacy and the real prospect of closures. It genuinely makes it impossible for me to look my local pharmacist in the eye as I wish him a happy new year.
It’s pretty clear what the government line is. They see too many pharmacists being trained for a sector that they believe is already overcrowded. At the same time, general practice is suffering a recruitment crisis – and demonstrating an appetite for taking on pharmacists, given that the recent pilot to employ pharmacists in GP surgeries was so heavily oversubscribed.
So the solution is obvious. Pharmacists, through the 'Pharmacy Integration Fund', will solve the GP workforce crisis, plus many of the associated issues – urgent care, residential homes and so on.
So in one sense the future looks a little brighter – in that there should be plenty of jobs available. They just won’t be the ones you imagined.