23 May 2016: The NHS has launched a consultation over cuts in funding for pharmacies in England. In a letter to the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (“PSNC”) announcing the consultation, the NHS proposes a 6% reduction in total annual funding for pharmacies from October 2016. This amounts to £170million, part of the £22billion of Efficiency Savings that the NHS has to deliver by 2020/21.
The Times reports that there are more than 11,000 pharmacies in England. They receive 90% of their funding from the NHS for handling prescriptions, an average of £220,000 each. The Times claims that the proposed cuts could hit independent pharmacies hardest that comprise 39% of the total and up to 3,000 pharmacies could be at risk of closure.
The NHS’ letter to the PSNC suggests that there is an over supply of pharmacies in some parts of England and there is scope for cost saving by restructuring the way in which patients order and receive medicines. Pharmacies could also operate more in GP surgeries, Care Homes and Accident & Emergency Departments, the NHS Claims. The PSNC has responded to the letter by predicting that the cuts will force pharmacies to reduce staffing levels and direct more people to GP or urgent care. Other commentary on the consultation has focussed on the risks involved for patients in moving away from the current model where prescriptions are dispensed face to face by a qualified healthcare professional.
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