News

HDA Media And Political Bulletin – 17 October 2016

Pharmacy organisations quickly respond to announcements

14 October 2016, P3 Pharmacy

 

Last week the Department of Health announced proposed cuts to pharmacy funding as well as a new urgent repeat medicines pilot. This will give community pharmacies the authority to make supplies of medicines needed urgently on referral by NHS 111.  Pharmacy organisations however, have come out to speak against the proposed cuts and expressed their beliefs that the announcements made in regards to new pharmacy services have been timed to drive attention away from upcoming cuts. NPA Chairman, Ian Strachan has spoken out highlighting the contradiction in asking pharmacies to develop new roles and services whilst cutting the funds that would allow this to happen.

 

NPA: Emergency supply proposals a ‘smoke screen’ for cuts

14 October 2016, Chemist & Druggist, Annabelle Collins

 

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has alluded to the Government’s plan to enable pharmacists to supply emergency medication without GP approval as a smoke screen for upcoming funding cuts. The Department of Health announced that the pilot scheme would be launched in areas of England from December. NPA chairman Ian Strachan has said that the announcement of this new pilot scheme has been strategically times to draw attention away from the impending cuts. He added that community pharmacies will struggle to provide these services if they are forced to cut back on staff.

 

NPA and Pharmacy Business (here and here) have published articles about the implementation of the new urgent repeat medicines pilot.

 

Emotions run high in response to the DH’s funding package

15 October 2016, Chemist & Druggist, Grace Lewis & Annabelle Collins

 

Pharmacy organisations have expressed their shock that the Governments proposed funding package will go ahead in December. Claire Ward, Chair of Pharmacy Voice said that the cuts are a bitter blow to community pharmacy. Royal Pharmaceutical Society England Board Chair Sandra Gidley, also commented saying that the pharmacy community are deeply disappointed and alarmed that the Government has not altered their approach to funding cuts this year. She called upon the Government to keep the promise made to bring pharmacy closer into the wider primary care and community health system.

 

Community pharmacy sector rejects government plans to implement 12% funding cuts

14 October 2016, The Pharmaceutical Journal, Ingrid Torjesen

 

The PSNC has rejected the Department of Health’s proposals to cut back community pharmacy funding by 12%. The PSNC believe that these cuts could result in the closure of a quarter of pharmacies and force the removal of free health services from community pharmacies across England. A spokesperson for the Department of Health says that the Government has worked closely with the PSNC, listening to their suggestions and counterproposals over several months.

 

Pharmacy Voice and NPA, have further commented on the proposed funding package for community pharmacy.

 

The full ministerial response to the PSNC can be found here

 

The full ministerial announcement concerning the New pharmacy service for urgent repeat prescriptions and minor ailments can be found here

Parliamentary Coverage

 

There is no Parliamentary coverage today.

 

Full Coverage

Pharmacy organisations quickly respond to announcements

14 October 2016, P3 Pharmacy

Pharmacy organisations have been responding to the threat to pharmacy funding, PSNC’s rejection of a proposed funding agreement and new pharmacy schemes announced by the Department of Health.

 

Here are their statements in full.

 

A joint statement from PSNC, Pharmacy Voice, National Pharmacy Association, Company Chemists’ Association and Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies:

 

Announcement on services has been timed to draw attention away from looming cuts

 

“Although we note today’s recognition of the role that community pharmacy can play in the provision of urgent care and the pilot on the emergency supply of medicines, we are disappointed that this scheme has only been commissioned as a pilot. We are also confused by the references to minor ailments, because we do not believe that what has been set out is in any way the sort of minor ailments service that is needed to really take pressure off urgent care services. Instead the NHS will simply seek to direct people to pharmacies in order to receive advice and to purchase medicines as they would already do.

 

More importantly, this announcement is being made in the midst of planned funding cuts for community pharmacy. These cuts could have a much more significant impact on patients, leading to a scaling back of pharmacy services and even possible unplanned pharmacy closures. Pharmacies cannot deliver new services or pilots if they have to cut back staff or worse. This announcement has clearly been timed to draw attention away from the looming cuts, but it once again highlights the contradiction at the heart of the Department’s position – asking pharmacies to develop new roles and services whilst stripping away the investment necessary to make it happen.

 

Using community pharmacies to help patients get quick, effective access to care for minor ailments, reducing the demands on general practice, offers less costly, quicker, more effective care, and the refusal of the NHS to commission a national minor ailments advice service from community pharmacies reflects badly on the Government’s concern for our communities and for the NHS.”

 

Comment from Pharmacy Voice chair, Claire Ward:

 

Anger and disappointment and a bitter blow to community pharmacy

 

“Pharmacy Voice has reacted with anger and disappointment at today’s news that the Government has failed to agree the funding package for community pharmacy contract for 2016-17, and that the sector now faces an imposition of dramatic cuts over the next 18 months.

 

“With the sector now facing cuts of hundreds-of-millions of pounds from December, the Government risks putting patient care, services, local businesses and jobs at risk.

“The news of the scope and scale of the cuts follows a series of delays in decision-making from the Department of Health as it was forced to shelve key aspects of the reforms and struggled to respond to concerns raised by community pharmacists, MPs from all parties and the 2 million people that signed the largest health related petition in the country’s history.

“Pharmacy Voice Chair, Claire Ward, said: “This is a bitter blow to community pharmacy after all our hard work to demonstrate the value we bring to the NHS, public health system and wider society.

 

“Through the counter-proposals and the Community Pharmacy Forward View, the sector has advanced a future for the sector that will not only enhance efficiency but will also ensure its long-term future, with patients at its heart. The fact that Government currently appears to be unwilling to match our ambition ­– despite the evidence, its own warm words for the sector and the out-pouring of support from pharmacy users – is extremely disappointing.

“Nonetheless, we remain committed to working in partnership with national and local colleagues, and to playing our part in relieving pressure on our hard pressed GPs and A&E departments

 

“Attempts to justify these cuts with superficial arguments about pharmacy clustering, inefficiency and investment in ‘pilot schemes’ have been misleading, and are quite simply not supported by the facts. I fear that the burden of these changes will now fall on those least able to bear it. We will be closely monitoring and highlighting the impact the cuts have on pharmacy teams and their patients over the coming months.

 

“At the same time, we will continue to work with our members and other national pharmacy bodies to support the ongoing campaign and to advocate for the long-term plan for the sector within the Community Pharmacy Forward View. We will build on the enormous good-will we have generated within Parliament, amongst the public and with NHS and Local Government colleagues in support of an expanded role for pharmacy within primary care and public health.

“In the meantime, I continue to urge the Government to halt these damaging and costly plans, and instead take up the sector’s offer to work in collaboration and partnership to secure the clinical services, employment opportunities, and community support that pharmacy teams across the country are uniquely placed to deliver.”

 

National Pharmacy Association chairman, Ian Strachan:

 

A contradiction in asking pharmacies to develop new roles and services while stripping away the investment necessary to make it happen

 

“The announcement is clearly timed to draw attention away from the looming cuts planned by the Department of Health. In reality it highlights the flat contradiction at the heart of the Department’s position – asking pharmacies to develop new roles and services whilst stripping away the investment necessary to make it happen.

 

“Pharmacies cannot deliver these services if they have to cut back staff. They cannot deliver a service if they have been forced to close.”

 

“The schemes look to fall far short of a properly funded nationwide scheme that would have transformational benefits for patients and the NHS. It’s a smoke screen. I don’t sense any conviction in it”.

 

“The Government has now acknowledged the unique potential of community pharmacies in urgent care. Health Ministers should follow that logic and back pharmacies more fully to take pressure off stretched GPs and hospitals.”

 

The Government’s approach is a betrayal of its promises and shows a complete disregard for the wellbeing of patients, who have made their views known through their response to the petition

 

“The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has reacted with fury to the news that pharmacy funding talks have broken down, following confirmation that the Department of Health wants to press ahead with massive cuts.

 

“Earlier this year, a decision was delayed after a record breaking two million petition was delivered to Downing Street.

 

“The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has rejected the Department of Health’s proposed funding package for 2016/17. The proposed package includes cuts that will, if implemented, see patients suffer as services are withdrawn. The Department will now have to propose a revised package, or impose their proposed funding changes on England’s community pharmacies.

 

“The Government’s approach is a betrayal of its promises and shows a complete disregard for the wellbeing of patients. Millions of worried patients have asked the Department of Health to think again. Politicians from all parties are against the cuts. Yet elements within Government seem determined to press ahead with this damaging experiment, deaf to the nationwide protests.

 

“There is a flat contradiction at the heart of the Department’s position – asking pharmacies to develop new roles and services whilst stripping away the investment necessary to make it happen. Pharmacies cannot deliver more if they have to cut back staff. They cannot deliver a service if they have been forced to close.

 

“This is a dangerous experiment. We have seen no official assessment from Government of what the consequences will be for patient care, although we know full well that people will suffer, including some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

 

“The Pharmacy Minister said this week that final decisions have yet to be made. If that is the case, he has to seize this final opportunity to change course. If he does not, he should know that we will not accept this meekly. We owe it to the millions of patients who have supported us to continue to safeguard the pharmacy services they rely on – including the most vulnerable of the patients and communities that we serve.”

 

Royal Pharmaceutical Society England Board Chair, Sandra Gidley:

 

The NHS emergency medicines supply service is already tried and tested and there is no need for further piloting – it should go live across England without delay

 

“We are deeply disappointed that the Government has not changed its approach to funding cuts this year and alarmed that further cuts have been announced for next financial year.

“Funding cuts will not improve the quality of care for patients delivered through community pharmacy. Pharmacists will not be reassured by this two-year deal, which guarantees less resource for front line care. We fear for patients, the public and pharmacists who may be significantly affected by changes in opening hours and staffing levels in community pharmacy, as well as the knock on impact on already pressured GP and A&E NHS care.

 

“How the Pharmacy Access Fund, which the Government says should guard against reduced public access to pharmacy and increased health inequalities, will operate, is still unknown. We would expect certainty around which pharmacies will receive support from the Pharmacy Access Fund before the scheme is implemented.

 

“The lack of news on the promised Pharmacy Integration Fund defies logic at a time when greater integration of primary care services to improve patient care is such a priority for the NHS. We call on the Government to make good on its promise made in the original letter of December 2015 “to bring pharmacy even closer into the wider primary care and community health system”, so we can see improved patient care through better use of pharmacists in care homes and urgent and emergency in the years to come.

 

“Patients and the public expect and deserve high quality care from community pharmacy, the drive for efficiency from community pharmacy that the Government is looking for is in danger of becoming a race to the bottom, where only those offering low cost, rather than high value services, survive. We want to see greater investment in direct patient care to enable community pharmacists to deliver responsive health services face to face with their patients.

“The intention for the implementation of a national NHS emergency medicines supply scheme through pharmacy is good news for patients. However, the NHS emergency medicines supply service is already tried and tested, with fantastic results that have both improved patient care and freed up time for GPs. There is absolutely no need for further piloting of a service that is badly needed as we head towards winter. This needs to be implemented across England without further delay.

 

“We also need assurance that the Government is serious about a national NHS funded minor ailments scheme through pharmacy. Any NHS minor ailments scheme needs to be true to the founding principles of the NHS and be free at the point of use. Patients and the public need a fully integrated NHS service, only then will we see people change behaviour, and pressure be taken off GP out of hours and A&E.

 

“Our job at RPS is to ensure as many community pharmacists as possible will be able to make the transition from the current arrangements to a future that will put community pharmacists at the heart of primary care. We will need to prepare the profession for new roles, with new skills and a new focus on one-to-one consultations. We will make sure our professional development programmes provide full support for RPS members for the increasing number of roles available.

 

“We will support members through the difficult time ahead. We have built stronger links with patient groups, local government and NHS England during the consultation phase. We have well advanced plans to support the profession through our professional development programmes, the RPS Faculty and RPS Foundation programmes, which are designed to help pharmacists gain recognition as well as skills for new roles in community pharmacy and elsewhere as they come on stream. The Government has said it wants to develop new models of care and is minded to incentivise change and we will help ensure that these promises become a sustainable reality.

 

“Although the focus right now will be on the funding announcement we have not lost focus on our strategic aim to gain a commitment from Government and NHS England that community pharmacy and pharmacists are integral to the future plan for the NHS.”

 

Celesio UK managing director, Cormac Tobin:

 

As winter pressures reach crisis point in the coming weeks community pharmacy is part of the solution, but they can’t do this without adequate funding

 

“Whilst the DH has recognised that community pharmacy has a role to play, this does, however, feel like a cynical attempt by the government to divert attention away from the imminent swingeing cuts to our sector. The Community Pharmacy Forward View outlined our vision and although this announcement acknowledges the potential role pharmacists can play in alleviating the burden on our health service, it does not go nearly far enough.

 

“The NHS is about to hit crisis point as we head towards the winter months; queues at GP surgeries, a social care system on its knees and A&E departments woefully over stretched. Community pharmacy is part of the solution to increasing capacity in other parts of the system, yet we cannot do so without adequate funding. There is still uncertainty as we await the cuts announcement.

 

“Pilots, as we know, can come and go and don’t give pharmacists the assurance that these services will become a permanent feature or that sustainable funding will follow. We can’t change patient behaviour unless we commit to long-term changes and locally commissioned services do little to raise public awareness nationally.

 

“We know how much money community pharmacy currently saves the NHS – we can save it more. But not if it’s very future is undermined. Pharmacists are accessible, clinically trained experts, passionate about the health and wellbeing of their patients. But their genius needs to be released by government, not constrained by it.”

 

Well chief executive, John Nuttall:

 

Urges government to revisit the evidence put forward in the reports ‘The value of community pharmacy’ and the ‘Community pharmacy forward view’ and work with the sector

 

“We are disappointed that the PSNC has been forced to reject the government’s proposal for community pharmacy funding. We believe the government has failed to fully consider the evidence put forward by the sector, that demonstrates the substantial social and health value of pharmacy.

 

“The NHS is experiencing unprecedented financial pressure, however community pharmacy has consistently delivered efficiency savings to the NHS, and the proposed cuts are simply not achievable. Currently pharmacy plays an integral role in supporting health and wellbeing. We are concerned that the scale and timing of the intended cuts would cause massive disruption and be detrimental to the wider NHS, putting A&E departments and GP practices, in particular, under additional strain.

 

“We would urge the government to revisit the evidence put forward in the reports, “The Value of Community Pharmacy”, and the “Community Pharmacy Forward View” and work with us to ensure a sustainable future.

 

“Whilst we have no choice but to prepare in case these cuts are imposed upon us, our priority will continue to be ensuring the highest standards of care for our patients.”

 

NPA: Emergency supply proposals a ‘smoke screen’ for cuts

14 October 2016, Chemist & Druggist, Annabelle Collins

 

Government plans to allow pharmacists to supply emergency medication without GP approval is a “smoke screen” for looming funding cuts, the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has said.

Under the ‘Pharmacy Urgent Care’ pilot programme announced by the Department of Health (DH) yesterday (October 13), patients who call NHS 111 for urgent repeat medication will  be directed straight to a community pharmacist, instead of out-of-hours GP surgeries.

 

The programme will launch in “pilot areas across England” in December, the DH added.

 

NHS 111 will also develop a “new approach” to refer patients with minor ailments – such as sore throats and bites – to community pharmacists for advice and medication, the DH said. This work will be linked to locally commissioned minor ailments services, it added.

 

However, NPA chairman Ian Strachan said yesteday that the new pharmacy schemes are a “smoke screen…clearly timed to draw attention away from the looming cuts planned by the [DH]”.

 

“Pharmacies cannot deliver these services if they have to cut back staff. They cannot deliver a service if they have been forced to close,” he added.

 

The emergency supply pilot will be funded by the pharmacy integration fund – a £300 million fund designed to assimilate pharmacy into the NHS and other care settings – and the cost of drugs would be recharged to NHS England as an average cost across each clinical commissioning group, the DH told C+D today (October 14).

 

The England-wide minor ailments direction service will be “developed and evaluated” between December 2016 and April 2018, the DH added. It will not receive funding and instead be “undertaken through ‘business as usual’ work”, the DH told C+D.

 

As part of its work looking at options to better integrate community pharmacy into urgent care, NHS England will investigate the impact of patients going to A&E for urgent prescriptions, the DH said.

 

“Modernising the sector”

 

Pharmacy minister David Mowat said yesterday that the DH is “modernising the sector to give patients the best possible quality and care”.

 

“This new scheme will make more use of pharmacists’ expertise, as well as freeing up vital time for GPs and reducing visits to A&E for urgent repeat medicines,” Mr Mowat said.

 

He added it is part of the DH’s drive to meet increasing demand for services, while “transforming” how pharmacists and their teams operate in the community.

 

England’s chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge said the pilot will help pharmacy to integrate into the NHS’ urgent care system and described it as a “step towards the new role for community pharmacy”.

 

NHS England medical director for acute care Keith Willett said directing patients with less serious conditions to pharmacy could reduce the current pressure on the NHS.

 

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee has today rejected the government’s plans to slash pharmacy funding in England by 12% for December 2016 until March 2017.

 

NPA response to Department of Health announcement about new pharmacy schemes

14 October 2016, National Pharmacy Association

 

Responding to the announcement on Thursday by Community Health and Care Minister David Mowat, NPA Chairman Ian Strachan said today:

 

“The announcement is clearly timed to draw attention away from the looming cuts planned by the Department of Health.  In reality it highlights the flat contradiction at the heart of the Department’s position – asking pharmacies to develop new roles and services whilst stripping away the investment necessary to make it happen.

 

“Pharmacies cannot deliver these services if they have to cut back staff. They cannot deliver a service if they have been forced to close.”

 

“The schemes look to fall far short of a properly funded nationwide scheme that would have transformational benefits for patients and the NHS.  It’s a smoke screen.  I don’t sense any conviction in it”.

 

“The Government has now acknowledged the unique potential of community pharmacies in urgent care.  Health Ministers should follow that logic and back pharmacies more fully to take pressure off stretched GPs and hospitals.”

 

A further communication is being distributed by the national pharmacy representative bodies jointly, including the NPA.

 

URGENT REPEAT MEDICINES PILOT EXPECTED IN DECEMBER, MOWAT TO TELL PB AWARDS

13 October 2016, Pharmacy Business, Neil Trainis

 

David Mowat, the minister responsible for pharmacy, is expected to use this evening’s Pharmacy Business Awards to announce that the government will launch an urgent repeat medicines pilot in community pharmacy in December.

 

The community health and care minister is expected to reveal a pilot for pharmacies to make supplies of medicines needed urgently on referral by NHS 111.

 

He is also expected to announce a minor ailments framework aimed at encouraging Clinical Commissioning Groups to commission local services.

 

PB AWARDS HAIL PHARMACY AS MOWAT PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR PROFESSION

14 October 2016, Pharmacy Business, Neil Trainis

 

Pharmacy Business paid tribute to community pharmacy’s role in healthcare during its awards event in London last night to the backdrop of ministerial promises about its future role in a creaking NHS.

 

Fourteen awards were handed out on the night, 12 to community pharmacies and one for Sue Sharpe, the chief executive of the PSNC who was given the Editor’s Award for her contribution to pharmacy’s struggle against the government’s funding cuts. There was also a special posthumous award for Kirit Patel, the founder of Day Lewis, who died in July.

 

The awards followed a promise by David Mowat, the community health and care minister, who told an audience of around 900 people at the InterContinental London O2 hotel that the government was committed to a pharmacy supply service for medicines needed urgently on referral by NHS 111 and a national minor ailments pilot between now and April 2018 which he promised would “be resourced and commissioned.”

 

“Roughly speaking, NHS 111 receives 200,000 telephone calls a year requesting repeat prescriptions. Currently, the scripts that the people use direct those requests to GPs, particularly out-of-hours GPs,” Mowat said.

 

“From December 1 nationally, those scripts will be changed and those 200,000 phone calls will be redirected to community pharmacists. That will happen and that’s a commitment.

 

“The second part of that is that we understand fully that you can do more in minor ailments. There’s been a pilot running around minor ailments in west Yorkshire.

 

“That pilot will be rolled out nationally between now and April 2018, again on NHS 111 scripts, a variety of ailments that are judged to be minor ailments will be directed by those scripts not to GPs but to community pharmacists. That will be resourced and commissioned and that will happen. They are not just words, they are going to happen.”

 

Mowat also said the government was “starting the legislation process” on the decriminalisation of dispensing errors and promised to “sort that out later this year.”

 

Mowat’s announcement was met with little enthusiasm by some within the audience. Graham Phillips, the owner of Manor Pharmacy Group, tweeted: “Bullshit warning. No government investment in the 2 scheme the minister just announced. Meanwhile #pharmacycuts imminent.”

 

Despite the politicking, community pharmacy took centre stage. The Pharmacy Business of the Year award went to Greenlight Pharmacy in London for its excellent service and Chuckery Pharmacy, situated in a deprived area of Walsall, took the Community Award.

 

The Customer Care Award went to Avicenna Pharmacy in Bishopsworth, Public Health Pharmacist of the Year was Award Francisco Alvarez at Regent Pharmacy, the Pharmacy Team Award went to Bedminster Pharmacy in Bristol and Emily Coppin-Harris was named Pre-Reg Trainee of the Year.

 

The Health & Beauty Pharmacy Award winner was Chasetown Pharmacy in Walsall, the Natural Healthcare Pharmacy Award went to Harrod Pharmacy in London, the Innovation Award went to Baxenden Pharmacy in Accrington while Corinne Player from Manor Pharmacy in Sutton was named Pharmacy Assistant of the Year.

 

Chain of the Year were Kamsons Pharmacy and the Enterprise Award went to Pharm Assist’s Ashley Cohen.

 

Emotions run high in response to the DH’s funding package

15 October 2016, Chemist & Druggist, Grace Lewis & Annabelle Collins

 

Pharmacy bodies have described the shock announcement that the government’s proposed cuts will go ahead as a “bitter blow” and “illogical”.

In the wake of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee’s announcement that it has rejected the government’s plans to slash pharmacy funding in England by 12% for December 2016 until March 2017, C+D rounds-up the immediate reactions from the sector.

 

“This is a bitter blow to community pharmacy” – Pharmacy Voice chair Claire Ward

 

“This is a bitter blow to community pharmacy after all our hard work to demonstrate the value we bring to the NHS, public health system and wider society.”

 

“The fact that the government currently appears to be unwilling to match our ambition – despite the evidence, its own warm words for the sector and the out-pouring of support from pharmacy users – is extremely disappointing.”

 

“We are deeply disappointed…and alarmed” – Royal Pharmaceutical Society England board chair Sandra Gidley

 

“We are deeply disappointed that the government has not changed its approach to funding cuts this year and alarmed that further cuts have been announced for next financial year.

 

“The lack of news on the promised Pharmacy Integration Fund defies logic at a time when greater integration of primary care services to improve patient care is such a priority for the NHS. We call on the government to make good on its promise made in the original letter of December 2015 “to bring pharmacy even closer into the wider primary care and community health system.”

 

“We will not accept this betrayal meekly” – National Pharmacy Association chairman Ian Strachan

 

“The government’s approach is a betrayal of its promises and shows a complete disregard for the wellbeing of patients.

 

“This is a dangerous experiment…and a flat contradiction at the heart of the department’s position – asking pharmacies to develop new roles and services whilst stripping away the investment necessary to make it happen.

 

“We will not accept this meekly.”

 

“Arbitrary cuts” are “completely false economy” – Michael Dugher, Labour MP for Barnsley East

 

“For all their warm words on community pharmacies…ministers seem committed to pushing through a massive package of arbitrary cuts.

 

“Cuts to community pharmacies are bad for our local communities. But they are also bad for the NHS, which is already in crisis, and are a complete false economy as they will pile even more pressure on already overstretched GP surgeries and A&E [departments].”

 

“We firmly support” the PSNC’s decision to reject the proposals – Boots Spokesperson

 

“We are extremely disappointed that the pharmacy funding discussions have not reached a satisfactory outcome based on a shared understanding of the value of community pharmacy. We firmly support the PSNC decision to reject the government proposal this week and want to ensure community pharmacy remains an accessible point of care for all communities across the UK.”

 

The funding cut will have a “real impact” on community pharmacies – John D’Arcy, managing director, Numark

 

“We fully agree with the PSNC’s rejection of the Department of Health’s proposed cut of 12% this year. It’s essential that the Government recognises the crucial role of community pharmacies and reconsiders the framework through which this can be delivered as well as agreeing sufficient remuneration.”

 

“As any funding cuts would eat into profits provided from prescriptions, focusing on expanded service provision and stocking healthcare related OTC products will ensure pharmacies can continue to protect and grow their businesses.”

 

Community pharmacy sector rejects government plans to implement 12% funding cuts

14 October 2016, The Pharmaceutical Journal, Ingrid Torjesen

 

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee has rejected the Department of Health’s proposals to cut community pharmacy funding.

 

The Department of Health (DH) is planning to implement a 12% cut to community pharmacy funding in England from December 2016 that could result in the closure of a quarter of pharmacies and the removal of free health services from community pharmacies, according to the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC).

 

The DH reiterated its plans to forge ahead with the cuts in a confidential letter (dated 9 September 2016) to the PSNC, which negotiates the pharmacy contract with the government.

 

It proposes to reduce funding for community pharmacy by 12% from December 2016 to March 2017, which means funding for 2016–2017 will be £2.69bn, and cut it by 7.4% (compared to current levels for the next financial year), to set funding at £2.59bn for 2017–2018.

 

The PSNC has rejected the DH’s proposals in a letter, dated 13 October 2016. This means that the DH will have to come back with a revised package or it could impose the funding cuts without the support of the sector’s negotiating body.

 

The DH first proposed cuts to community pharmacy funding in December 2015 and since then the pharmacy sector has offered alternative proposals that would save the NHS equivalent sums. The sector has also come back with proposals for new pharmacy services that could save the NHS money by reducing demand in A&E and GP surgeries. However, all of these proposals have been rejected.

 

In September 2016, the PSNC released research showing that 12 pharmacy services generate an annual £3bn net benefit for the NHS and that the proposed funding cuts would hit areas with greatest health inequalities hardest. The DH has not responded to this research and has not provided any published evidence to support its own plans to reduce pharmacy funding.

 

The DH has always acknowledged that its proposals would mean that some pharmacies would become unviable, and estimates have put the number of pharmacies at risk of closure at up to 3,000.

 

A Pharmacy Access Scheme (PhAS) is planned to protect community pharmacies where patient need is greatest, but the PSNC has warned that the proposals for this “do nothing to protect the pharmacies in areas of the greatest health need or those with high ethnic minority populations who often depend on the pharmacist to get advice in their own language”.

 

“The support within the proposed PhAS is directed towards pharmacies in more affluent areas,” it says.

A spokesperson for the DH says: “We have worked collaboratively with the PSNC and have listened to their suggestions and counterproposals over the course of many months.

 

“Ministers are considering a proposed package for the sector and no final decision has been taken, but we are committed to offering more help to those pharmacies people most depend on‎ compared to others.”

 

The spokesperson added that the DH would not be publishing details of that proposed package at the present time.

 

Meanwhile, pharmacy leaders have reacted with anger and disappointment to the news about the cuts.

 

Sandra Gidley, chair of the English Pharmacy Board at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, says: “We are deeply disappointed that the government has not changed its approach to funding cuts this year and alarmed that further cuts have been announced for next financial year.”

 

Gidley also warns that the cuts will have a detrimental effect on the quality of patient care delivered through community pharmacy. “We fear for patients, the public and pharmacists who may be significantly affected by changes in opening hours and staffing levels in community pharmacy.”

 

Ian Strachan, chair of the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), the trade association for independent community pharmacy in the UK, branded the government’s plans “a dangerous experiment”, and says that the lack of official evaluation “shows a complete disregard for the well-being of patients”.

 

“There is a flat contradiction at the heart of the [DH’s] position — asking pharmacies to develop new roles and services whilst stripping away the investment necessary to make it happen. Pharmacies cannot deliver more if they have to cut back staff. They cannot deliver a service if they have been forced to close,” he adds.

 

Claire Ward, chair of Pharmacy Voice, a trade association that represents community pharmacy in England, says that it was “a bitter blow” that after all the hard work through the counterproposals and the ‘Community pharmacy forward view’ to demonstrate the value community pharmacy could bring, the government appears to be “unwilling to match our ambition”.

 

“Attempts to justify these cuts with superficial arguments about pharmacy clustering, inefficiency and investment in ‘pilot schemes’ have been misleading, and are quite simply not supported by the facts. I fear that the burden of these changes will now fall on those least able to bear it,” she says.

 

“I continue to urge the government to halt these damaging and costly plans, and instead take up the sector’s offer to work in collaboration and partnership.”

 

Pharmacy Voice responds to damaging Government plans to cut sector’s funding

14 October 2016, Pharmacy Voice

 

Pharmacy Voice has reacted with anger and disappointment at today’s news that the Government has failed to agree the funding package for community pharmacy for 2016-17, and that the sector now faces an imposition of dramatic cuts over the next 18 months.

 

With the sector now facing cuts of hundreds-of-millions of pounds from December, the Government risks putting patient care, services, local businesses and jobs at risk.

 

The news of the scope and scale of the cuts follows a series of delays in decision-making from the Department of Health as it was forced to shelve key aspects of the reforms and struggled to respond to concerns raised by community pharmacists, MPs from all parties and the 2 million people that signed the largest health related petition in the country’s history.

 

Pharmacy Voice Chair, Claire Ward, said: “This is a bitter blow to community pharmacy after all our hard work to demonstrate the value we bring to the NHS, public health system and wider society.

 

“Through the counter-proposals and the Community Pharmacy Forward View, the sector has advanced a future for the sector that will not only enhance efficiency but will also ensure its long-term future, with patients at its heart. The fact that the Government currently appears to be unwilling to match our ambition – despite the evidence, its own warm words for the sector and the out-pouring of support from pharmacy users – is extremely disappointing.

 

“Nonetheless, we remain committed to working in partnership with national and local colleagues, and to playing our part in relieving pressure on our hard pressed GPs and A&E departments.

 

“Attempts to justify these cuts with superficial arguments about pharmacy clustering, inefficiency and investment in ‘pilot schemes’ have been misleading, and are quite simply not supported by the facts. I fear that the burden of these changes will now fall on those least able to bear it.  We will be closely monitoring and highlighting the impact the cuts have on pharmacy teams and their patients over the coming months.

 

“At the same time, we will continue to work with our members and other national pharmacy bodies to support the ongoing campaign and to advocate for the long-term plan for the sector within the Community Pharmacy Forward View.  We will build on the enormous good-will we have generated within Parliament, amongst the public and with NHS and Local Government colleagues in support of an expanded role for pharmacy within primary care and public health.

 

“In the meantime, I continue to urge the Government to halt these damaging and costly plans, and instead take up the sector’s offer to work in collaboration and partnership to secure the clinical services, employment opportunities, and community support that pharmacy teams across the country are uniquely placed to deliver.”

 

NPA reacts with fury to news that pharmacy funding talks have broken down

14 October 2016, National Pharmacy Association

 

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has reacted with fury to the news that pharmacy funding talks have broken down, following confirmation that the Department of Health wants to press ahead with massive cuts.

 

Earlier this year, a decision was delayed after a record breaking two million petition was delivered to Downing Street.

 

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has rejected the Department of Health’s proposed funding package for 2016/17. The proposed package includes cuts that will, if implemented, see patients suffer as services are withdrawn. The Department will now have to propose a revised package, or impose their proposed funding changes on England’s community pharmacies.

 

Responding to the news, National Pharmacy Association (NPA) chairman, Ian Strachan, said today:

 

“The Government’s approach is a betrayal of its promises and shows a complete disregard for the well-being of patients.  Millions of worried patients have asked the Department of Health to think again. Politicians from all parties are against the cuts. Yet elements within Government seem determined to press ahead with this damaging experiment, deaf to the nationwide protests.

 

“There is a flat contradiction at the heart of the Department’s position – asking pharmacies to develop new roles and services whilst stripping away the investment necessary to make it happen. Pharmacies cannot deliver more if they have to cut back staff. They cannot deliver a service if they have been forced to close.

 

“This is a dangerous experiment. We have seen no official assessment from Government of what the consequences will be for patient care, although we know full well that people will suffer, including some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

 

“The Pharmacy Minister said this week that final decisions have yet to be made. If that is the case, he has to seize this final opportunity to change course. If he does not, he should know that we will not accept this meekly. We owe it to the millions of patients who have supported us to continue to safeguard the pharmacy services they rely on – including the most vulnerable of the patients and communities that we serve.”

HDA Media And Political Bulletin – 17 October 2016

From Factory to Pharmacy

As part of our mission to build awareness, understanding and appreciation of the vital importance of the healthcare distribution sector, we developed an infographic explaining the availability of medicines. It identifies the factors that can impact drug supply, as well as the measures that HDA members undertake day in, day out to help mitigate the risks of patients not receiving their medicines.

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