Community pharmacists will need support from RPS and other organisations following today’s announcement by the Department of Health that they will reduce total funding for community pharmacy, both this year and next.
The profession has spoken with one voice on this issue. We have consistently asked how the Government’s aspiration for the future of community pharmacy to be at the heart of the NHS can be squared with large reductions in funding.
We recognise the NHS is under huge financial pressure, with colleagues in public health and hospitals at the sharp end of squeezed budgets too. There is a broader case for all of us in health to make about investment in a service that is dealing with unprecedented demand and expectations.
Today we have heard more detail about the pharmacy access scheme, with some additional funding for pharmacies in deprived communities. It remains to be seen if this scheme will lessen the impact on opening hours and staffing levels in these vital community pharmacies.
The pharmacy integration fund, originally set at £300M over five years, has now been reduced to £42M over 2 years, with years 3, 4 and 5 yet to be confirmed. We are committed to working with NHS England on best use of this fund but are dismayed there is now less certainly about the long term status of this work.
We know that many pharmacists, whether they own a pharmacy or work for a pharmacy business will be hugely concerned about the future. We have been very clear about our opposition to funding reductions, but we know that the profession needs more from us at this time. The RPS will also make sure we offer pharmacists practical support to plan for the change that will begin on December the 1st.