Rejecting the offer, PSNC noted that the proposals:
– Would reduce funding from December 2016 to March 2017 by 12% on current levels, to set funding for this year at £2.687bn;
– Would reduce funding for 2017-18 by 7.4% on current levels, to set funding at £2.592bn for that year;
– Would force pharmacies to reduce staffing and cut back on services; and
– Are rooted in the government’s professed aim to close pharmacies.
Community pharmacy has offered the Department costed alternative proposals to reduce the NHS medicines bill, that would save the NHS money equivalent to the cuts demanded. Community pharmacy also proposed new community pharmacy services that would save the NHS money by reducing demand in A&E and GP surgeries. All of these proposals were rejected out of hand.
Unlike all previous negotiations between community pharmacy and the Department of Health, this year’s negotiations were not characterised by collaborative working. From the start, the proposals were presented by the Department as a fait accompli.
David Mowat MP, Minister for Care and Support at the Department of Health, told community pharmacy in September 2016: “I think it is right that we spend the time, particularly me as an incoming minister, to make sure that we are making the correct decision and that what we do is going to be right for you, is going to be right for the NHS and right for the public more generally.” Despite this, and the emergence of significant evidence of the financial benefits of community pharmacy services to public spending elsewhere, there is no substantive difference between the current proposal and the proposal announced in December 2015.
The Department has not published evidence in support of its plan to reduce pharmacy funding. It has not responded to research showing that twelve pharmacy services create an annual £3bn net benefit for the NHS and others by community pharmacies, or research that suggests its approach would hit areas with greatest health inequalities hardest. The proposals will lead to free health services being withdrawn from community pharmacies.
The proposals are founded on ignorance of the value of pharmacies to local communities, to the NHS, and to social care, and will do great damage to all three.
Read PSNC’s Letter to the Department of Health