Peers briefed on 2024 Pharmacy Pressures

Community Pharmacy England today briefed Peers on the severe challenges facing community pharmacies, including the findings of the 2024 Pressures Survey. In a wide-ranging discussion, Peers were taken through findings on medicine supply issues, funding pressures, and pharmacy workforce shortages, as well as hearing about Pharmacy First.

Chaired by former Pharmacy Minister Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, Peers heard from community pharmacist and Committee Member Prakash Patel and our Chief Executive, Janet Morrison, on the intolerable pressures facing the sector in 2024.

Janet presented to Peers on the main findings of the survey following the publication of our first report on medicine supply issues this month. Peers heard how medicine supply issues are a daily occurrence in pharmacies with the overwhelming majority of pharmacy team members saying that shortages are putting patient health at risk.

Janet also discussed the huge financial challenges facing pharmacy businesses, outlining the critical need for a funding uplift.

Peers in attendance included NHS England Non-Executive Director Baroness Watkins, Liberal Democrat Frontbencher Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, former Opposition Chief Whip Lord Blencathra, and former Liberal Democrat Frontbencher Lord Scriven.

Attendees expressed concern at increasing instances of pharmacists dispensing medication at a loss, supporting measures such as generic medicine substitution as a short-term means to ease some issues. The discussion also focused on the need for strategic thinking in Government to utilise pharmacy’s potential, whether the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) is fit for purpose, and the impact of the NHS workforce plan on the sector.

Janet also updated Peers on the Pharmacy First service, highlighting the need for a greater awareness campaign from the Government and NHS to ensure patients know how to access the service. Janet also outlined the lack of pharmacist representation on Integrated Care Boards (ICBs), with Peers agreeing that pharmacy should be viewed as an equal partner on ICBs. Janet also set out the Vision for Community Pharmacy with ideas for the future of community pharmacies, if they have sufficient funding and support.

Community Pharmacy England Chief Executive Janet Morrison said:

“The results of this year’s Pharmacy Pressures Survey are deeply worrying and show a sector in great distress. Pharmacies are doing everything they can to ensure patients continue to have access to services they rely on, but urgent action is needed to avert disaster and to assure the sustainability of the sector.

“We are very grateful to the Peers who joined us this morning. They clearly understood the immense value that community pharmacies bring to primary care, and also shared our concerns on the long-term sustainability of the sector. We look forward to taking forward a number of positive actions following this morning’s event.”

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