Our response to the ITV1 documentary, ‘Tonight: ‘Pharmacies: The New NHS Frontline?’

Last night, ITV1 aired a documentary delving into the challenges faced by the community pharmacy sector and the effects on patients. In the lead-up to this programme airing, we and many others in the sector collaborated with the ITV Tonight team over several weeks to shed light on the profound crisis impacting English pharmacies.

The programme captured the essence of the frontline experience for pharmacy teams, going behind the scenes and emphasising that pharmacy owners and staff are stretched beyond belief. Our CEO Janet Morrison was interviewed for the documentary and emphasised the impact of global supply issues, increased pressures, rising costs and cutbacks on pharmacies and their patients. Community Pharmacy England Committee Member Ian Strachan was also interviewed at his pharmacies, showing the impact of these pressures.

Watch the Tonight programme on-demand

Read an ITV News article about the documentary

In response to the programme, our Chief Executive, Janet Morrison said:

“It is critical that we keep highlighting the crisis facing pharmacies, and the impact it has on patients and local communities, so we were pleased to be able to do so in a primetime TV programme. The documentary captured the issues well, and in a way that was simple and easy to understand. This all helps to build wider awareness of the problems, supporting the case for more investment and support for pharmacies. Our thanks go to the ITV team and all the pharmacists and others who took part in the programme.

“People in local communities recognise that community pharmacies are integral to the fabric of their daily lives, as the interviews in the programme made clear. And the documentary also laid bare the impact that it can have on patients when pharmacy services or medicines are not available, whether because of supply issues or because pharmacies are being forced to stop providing free services due to financial pressures.

“The ITV findings on pressures were sadly consistent with our own regular polling of pharmacy owners and with the findings of our Pressures Survey last year. Unfortunately, we expect that the results of this year’s survey – which will launch in early March – will make for yet more distressing reading as the situation for pharmacies remains incredibly difficult. Capturing this data remains a critical part of our evidence-gathering supporting the case for more funding and support for community pharmacy.

“ITV also heard from some pharmacists who said they did not feel confident in the run up to the launch of the Pharmacy First service. With still several weeks to go, our training programme continues and we would encourage all pharmacy teams to make the most of the resources available. Previous polling and preliminary results from our January polling suggest that the majority of the sector feel positive about the service, and also that most people are finding our webinars and other resources helpful.  Pharmacy First is a huge step forwards for community pharmacy, accompanied by the most significant investment in many years, and it has been encouraging to see so many people taking part in our training webinars. However, nearly a decade of funding cuts are severely impacting the sector and we are also continuing to fight for the further investment and help that community pharmacies desperately need.”

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