Autumn Budget: PSNC warns of ongoing squeeze on pharmacies
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The Chancellor has today (27th October) announced the Autumn Budget and outcomes of his Spending Review.
The Budget promises some additional funding for the NHS, including for some 50 million more primary care appointments as part of 100 community diagnostic centres. But the Chancellor made no specific pledges about supporting community pharmacy.
PSNC submitted a comprehensive bid for an uplift to Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) funding, including analysis of ongoing costs and the efficiencies being delivered by pharmacies, earlier this year. This was to coincide with early cross-Government discussions about the Spending Review, but it was ultimately rejected by HM Treasury.
PSNC’s bid for funding to cover contractors’ COVID-19 costs was resolved separately ahead of the Budget and resulted in some £250m being claimed by pharmacy businesses. Negotiations on CPCF services for this financial year, and on additional funding for the sector linked to pandemic-related services, have also taken place on an ongoing basis.
The Budget announcement of business rates relief will benefit pharmacy businesses, particularly smaller ones, and is welcome. But other elements of the Budget, including the rise in National Minimum Wage, will add to the funding pressures being faced by many contractors.
PSNC is concerned about the rising pressures on all pharmacies. We are continuing to work to quantify these and to highlight the urgent need for support – both funding, and to ease capacity pressures – to HM Government and the NHS.
We will also continue to work with others across the sector to ensure that policy makers understand the critical role that pharmacies are playing in supporting recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the enormous value that the sector delivers.
PSNC Vice-Chair and independent community pharmacy contractor Bharat Patel said:
“While increased health spending is always welcome, today’s Budget has not brought good news for community pharmacy and PSNC remains very concerned that community pharmacy’s bids for further CPCF funding have been rejected this year by HM Treasury.
Pharmacy businesses of all sizes are coming under increasing pressure – with a range of factors at play including workforce challenges, finances and capacity constraints – and today’s Budget will only add to this squeeze. We are particularly worried about the impact of spiralling business costs, such as the rise in National Minimum Wage, on pharmacies: unlike other businesses they are not able to pass costs on to consumers, and they are already delivering impressive efficiencies year-on-year. Many pharmacies are already at breaking point, and we are concerned about the impact this will have on the services they offer and on which so many people rely.
Pharmacies nationwide have made an enormous contribution to the pandemic response efforts, keeping their doors wide open to serve their communities and in doing so saving some 24 million GP appointments a year. The Chancellor’s vision for a high wage economy and time of optimism must go hand in hand with support for this critical network of healthcare providers.”