Community pharmacies in Peterborough face an uncertain future, as they learned today that their negotiator has rejected a funding deal proposed by the Department of Health. PSNC, which is the national negotiator for community pharmacy, says the reckless funding cuts proposed by the Department would, if implemented, see patients suffer as services are withdrawn.
The Department of Health will now have to propose a revised package, or impose their proposed funding changes on community pharmacies across England.
Pharmacy organisations have also expressed reservations about an announcement from the Government of plans that will see more patients calling NHS 111 referred to pharmacies. They say the plans do not go far enough in providing the support that patients across the country will need.
There are 41 local pharmacies in Peterborough, 1 in 4 of which are expected to close because of government-led funding cuts. The Department of Health and NHS England talk of ‘rationalising’ and ‘delivering efficiencies’, which is managementspeak for reading only balance sheets and ignoring the human aspect entirely. With a signature, jobs are lost, communities deprived and family members inconvenienced. The panic we feel when our child is feverish or in pain, the discomfort the aged will have to suffer for yet another day is not alleviated when the sanctuary of that illuminated green cross is dimmed for the last time. It means taking a taxi to an unfamiliar part of town where the late night chemist may not be open on the night we expect it to be. The cost in real terms to communities and of sourcing alternative provision may be much higher.
Local pharmacy owners and their representatives are concerned about the funding proposals and the future. Meb Datoo, who owns a pharmacy in School Road, Newborough, and is Chairman of the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough LPC (Local Pharmaceutical Committee) is particularly concerned: “I’m really worried about the impact this is going to have on my patients and the local community in Peterborough. We work very hard to ensure that all our patients have the medicines they need, when they need them and that they understand how to use them and are leading the healthiest lives that they can. If these funding cuts go ahead we are going to struggle to manage and to continue to provide all of the services that we want to.”
Rita Bali, manager at Lloyds and Executive Development Officer at Cambs & P’boro LPC said “We are very concerned about the funding cuts that have been proposed and we don’t understand how they are compatible with the stated aims of the NHS and Government to provide higher quality and more accessible care for patients. The cuts will most likely lead to pharmacies in Peterborough having to reduce staffing, cut opening hours and reduce the services offered. All of which will also of course add to the pressure already on local GP practices and hospitals.”
The Chief Executive of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, Sue Sharpe, offered the following: “The funding proposals were and remain, 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.”
The Government Proposals
On December 17th 2015 the Government published a letter to the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, which represents community pharmacy contractors (owners) on NHS matters in which it announced a funding reduction of £170m and a range of other changes. You can read the letter at:
A summary of the events and announcements that have taken place since the publication of the letter can be read on the PSNC website at:
About your local pharmacies
Your local pharmacy is more than just a place to get medicines. It provides a range of NHS services and ensures people can get face-to-face, healthcare professional advice without an appointment.
There are around 14,000 community pharmacies across the UK, so for most of us there is one very close by. In fact, 96% of people can get to a pharmacy within 20 minutes by walking or using public transport. Community pharmacists provide rapid access, without appointment, to a healthcare professional and offer a range of clinical and public health services. Most pharmacies now have consultation rooms, where you can talk with your pharmacist without being overheard.
You might be surprised at what pharmacies now offer: personalised medicines advice, help to quit smoking and to maintain good sexual health, treatment for common ailments, advice on preventing disease – and much more. It’s a package of care…not just packets of pills!
What’s more, pharmacies are part of the fabric of local communities. They provide local employment and are a health and social care asset close to where people live, work and shop.
What to do?
- Drop a letter of support to your local pharmacy, stating how valued their services are and what effect loss of the facility would have on you and families in your community. If you are emailing, you can copy in firstname.lastname@example.org
- Personalise that letter and send to your MP – in our case Stewart Jackson . You can email him at email@example.com
- Promote the campain on your Twitter account, using the hashtag #lovemypharmacy
- Contact your LPC at firstname.lastname@example.org to see whether there are local events taking place – or organise one yourself!
- Keep in touch with your local Labour party on this issue, perhaps by using Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/peterboroughlabourparty