May Briefing Event: Lack of Government investment and Pharmacy First challenges are key concerns for pharmacy owners

Underfunding, dispensing at a loss, and challenges in Pharmacy First implementation are amongst the key concerns and priorities for pharmacy owners in the coming months.

Community Pharmacy England’s digital briefing event held last week focussed on critical pressures and the future, providing an opportunity for pharmacy owners to learn more about our work in key areas and share views on important issues. More than 500 pharmacy owners and their representatives registered for the event, with approximately 85% of attendees telling us that they found it quite or very useful.

During the event, attendees heard from Janet Morrison, CEO of Community Pharmacy England, about the current climate, CPCF negotiations, and the future outlook. Janet explained how the 2024/25 CPCF negotiations are still very much ‘live’ discussions as the Negotiating Team tries to leverage a better deal based on the Government needing both Pharmacy First to be deliverable and the safe supply of medicines to patients to continue. When asked to share the message they would like us to give to DHSC/NHS England as part of these negotiations, an audience poll confirmed pharmacy owners strongly believe that without investment the volume of work pharmacies provide is unsustainable.

Members of Community Pharmacy England’s Committee and policy team also answered a range of questions relating to funding and the contractual framework, including addressing the meaning of the term ‘imposition’. Janet explained that, when the Government ‘imposes’ something, “we haven’t agreed to it” and therefore an imposition means that, despite strong objections from Community Pharmacy England, Ministers have decided to go ahead anyway, forcing their decision on the sector.

Another important topic was Pharmacy First, particularly as we seek to monitor the rollout of the service. Attendees described the service as “slow”, “challenging” and “underfunded”, as well as highlighting the importance of improving GPs’ understanding of the service. Community Pharmacy England’s recently launched Pharmacy First materials for GPs – including a video animation and infographic – may help those looking for resources to explain the service and its referral process.

Later in the event, representatives from Community Pharmacy England listened to groups of pharmacy owners discussing their experiences and priorities for the future, including ways that the sector might come together to help us get there. All groups agreed with our analysis of the dire state of pharmacy finances. The major concerns raised about the next twelve months included unsustainable pressures and viability of pharmacy businesses, with many owners indicating that they are in ‘survival mode’ and urgently need to have certainty over sustainable funding.

The results of the polls combined with feedback from the discussion groups are being fed back to the Negotiating Team and wider Committee to keep all members informed of the latest sentiments from across the sector on critical issues.

Anyone who was unable to attend the live event, or if you just want to re-watch, the recorded version is now available to watch via the link below: 

Watch a recording of our Briefing Event: Critical Pressures and the Future

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