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Petition1January 6 2016

Pharmacists are being asked to raise awareness of a petition to challenge Government proposals to cut the pharmacy remuneration package by 6% in 2016-17.

The petition states: “Stop cuts to pharmacy funding and support pharmacy services that save NHS money. On 17th December the Department of Health wrote to PSNC to impose a 6% cut in pharmacy funding. Pharmacy provides a crucial network, highly valued by patients, that makes huge differences to their health. NHS services are under strain and pharmacy can only help if the network is secure and strong.”

The online petition has been instigated by Numark member Paul Mason. The government says it will issue a response when 10,000 signatures are reached, and the petition will be considered for debate in Parliament when there are 100,000 signatures.

Numark, the ‘virtual pharmacy chain’ for independent community pharmacies, has also announced a toolkit for its members to assist with raising local awareness of the planned cuts to pharmacy funding. It includes information on how to contact both the media and MPs and raise the issue. It also includes template letters and press releases.

Numark’s Managing director, John D’Arcy, said: “There are still many unanswered questions raised by the pre-Christmas letter from the Department of Health and we need to see how the situation evolves. However, some of our members are keen to take action now as they fear the subsequent threat to their livelihood, so, following discussions with contractors we are making these resources available now.

“This kit provides practical support and will help our members take action as well as prepare for the challenges ahead. Our Pharmacy Development Managers are being briefed this week and they will be discussing the issue with pharmacy owners on their regular visits”

Mr D’Arcy also said that Numark was writing to the Health Minister and would be maintaining an open dialogue with pharmacy representative bodies to ensure there is a co-ordinated response to the cuts from across the sector. “However, our members are more vulnerable to the drop in remuneration than their multiple competitors and they are looking to Numark to provide assistance and leadership at this time,” he said.

The National Pharmacy Association says that “hundreds of independent pharmacists have already registered to take part in a coordinated response from the independent sector to NHS England proposals for ‘efficiencies’, such as centralised dispensing and more online supply of medicines.”

Pharmacists will be given “resources and hands-on support to build the evidence base required to make a compelling case to Government and NHS, and mobilise public opinion and political support for local pharmacies,” it said.

NPA Chairman, Ian Strachan, added: “The Government is conducting a dangerous experiment which could see local pharmacies close, thereby reducing people’s access to pharmaceutical and healthcare advice, and putting extra pressure on GPs and hospitals. The current drift of policy puts at risk a part of the health system that holds the key to solving many of its problems. Patients would be the biggest losers.

“Fundamentally, the answers lie in universal implementation of what we know works well, not about relying on unproven measures that could have serious unintended and irreversible consequences. Our voice is most powerful when NPA members are actively involved, so we are asking independents to step forward at what could be an important moment in pharmacy history. It is vital that we all play our part in the coming months.”

Community Pharmacy Wales has voiced its concerns over the 2016-17 funding settlement. Russell Goodway, Chief Executive at CPW said the organisation was aware of the correspondence between England’s Department of Health and the PSNC.

“Due to the current Wales/England arrangement there is a real danger that it will affect the Wales based community pharmacy network despite circumstances in Wales being completely different to those currently prevailing in England,” he warned.

“NHS services in Wales are very clearly the responsibility of Welsh Ministers and we will seek an early dialogue with the Health Minister in Cardiff Bay in a bid to ensure that the impact of what appears to be a very ill -informed set of proposals do not adversely affect services to patients in Wales.”

Mr Goodway said that the “Welsh Government, and in particular the current Minister, has a track record of being supportive of community pharmacy based services and has enhanced its role in the Welsh NHS through the introduction of a range of new services. CPW is confident that the Minister will not want decisions made by English Ministers to derail the progress we are achieving in Wales.”

Links:

NumarkNet

Petition (on UK Government and Parliament Petitions)

NPA statement

CPW statement

Today’s Pharmacist coverage of proposed funding cut

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