NHS winter crisis won’t be solved by pharmacies


NHS winter crisis won’t be solved by pharmacies: Pharmacists pour cold water on ‘Government plans to use them during NHS strikes’.

Steve Anderson, group managing director PHOENIX UK, which supports over 4,000 pharmacies in England – one in three of all pharmacies – through its Numark business, responds to the news that the Government has massively reduced pharmacy funding in real terms in England each year since 2019.

The figures (below), were given in response to a Parliamentary Question asked by Helen Morgan, the Lib Dem MP for North Shropshire.

These are truly shocking figures which show on the Parliamentary record for the first time how severe underfunding of the sector has been – cumulatively over the period from 2019 to date, taking account of inflation, the government has in effect reduced pharmacy funding by £790 million and stated funding will remain flat for the last two years of the contract. Taken together that could amount to a £1 billion reduction in real term funding over the lifetime of the community pharmacy contract.

No wonder we have seen hundreds of random pharmacy closures in recent years and with inflation running rampant along with continued flat funding that closure rate will inevitably hasten rapidly. This makes no sense at a time when the NHS is facing the greatest patient pressures since its inception.

Let’s be clear – a contracting community pharmacy network restricts access to essential NHS care and risks patient harm as a result. That cannot be acceptable.

If the government in England wants a smaller network, then they should say so and state their strategy to achieve that. Strangling the sector through insufficient funding is a cowardly approach which is wreaking havoc across the sector.

With a new PM and probably a new English Health Secretary now is the time for the government to perform another U-turn and start investing in this invaluable third pillar of access to healthcare.

About the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework

The Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework 2019-24 commits £2.592 billion per year to community pharmacy. The following table shows the nominal and real terms funding accounting for inflation in each year since 2018/19.

Nominal funding

September 2022 gross domestic product deflator

Real funding

2018/19 baseline

£2.592 billion

100.0

£2.592 billion

2019/20

£2.592 billion

102.6

£2.526 billion

2020/21

£2.592 billion

109.2

£2.374 billion

2021/22

£2.592 billion

108.7

£2.385 billion

2022/23

£2.592 billion

113.1

£2.293 billion

In addition, the agreement with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee for 2022/23 and 2023/24, announced on 22 September 2022, provides a non-recurrent additional investment of £100 million.

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