MPs unite in joint letter calling for urgent change in Community Pharmacy
A collective of 20 MPs from the different political parties have signed a letter calling for urgent action to support community pharmacies.
In the letter to pharmacy Minister, Dame Andrea Leadsom MP, the MPs urged the new health minister to commit to making changes for community pharmacies and patients nationwide.
Community Pharmacy England coordinated the letter with Judith Cummins MP after hosting our recent pharmacy winter pressures event in Parliament. We have also this week gained national media coverage of the letter, further highlighting the pressures on pharmacies and the need for more investment and support.
The letter takes note of recent NHS figures estimating that since October 2016, approximately 1,400 pharmacies have closed permanently, with many more withdrawing services or reducing their opening hours, particularly in deprived areas.
Dame Andrea is being urged to commit to essential changes including:
- A fair and sustainable core funding model
- An effective implementation of the Pharmacy First service
- An expansion into other clinical service areas.
The sector is wrestling with mounting pressures, exacerbated by inflationary challenges, workforce shortages, and disruptions in medicine supply chains. Unlike other industries, community pharmacies cannot pass on increasing costs to their customers, with NHS funding constituting 90% of their income. Analysis by Community Pharmacy England also shows how much National Living Wage increases will cost community pharmacies.
Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy England, says:
“Pharmacies are grappling with financial pressures, staff shortages, closures, and escalating costs. This cannot continue, and we appeal to the new health minister to address these, and all of the concerns outlined in this letter. The crucial role of pharmacies in providing essential healthcare services to communities is on the line. The financial pressures on pharmacies are extreme, and show no signs of improving.
“We have deep concerns about the financial impact of the increase in the National Living Wage (NLW) for 2024. The announcement of a 9.8% increase will weigh heavily on pharmacy businesses, and we estimate that the additional cost to the community pharmacy sector of implementing this uplift is between £150m – £195m. This will be on top of the 30% reduction in funding the sector has experienced so far. It’s just not sustainable to expect pharmacies to absorb these additional costs. A failure to act to correct some of this will see many more pharmacies closing through 2024.
“MPs have rightly highlighted their concerns about the viability of community pharmacies, we are thankful for their support and for recognising the monumental challenges faced by community pharmacies.”
Acknowledging the support of MPs and the urgent need for action, Judith Cummins MP, also said:
“Community pharmacies are more than just a place to get medicines. They are pillars of the community offering important face-to-face services like vaccines and a wide range of other healthcare advice. The vital work of local pharmacies reduces pressure on our over-stretched NHS and GP services. Yet, they are having to do more with less; funding has dropped 30% in real terms since 2015, meaning 1400 pharmacies have been forced to close since 2016 and leaving thousands more on the precipice of collapse.
“This letter, co-signed by 20 cross-party MPs, calls on the government to urgently address the pressures faced by community pharmacies so that they are properly supported for the work that they do, and so that people across England can continue to access the services that they need and deserve.”