Press releases

Learn from others, put an end to death by 1000 cuts in community pharmacy in England

There are some very interesting developments taking place in the community pharmacy sector in Wales at present. In an interview with C&D, the CPO for Wales, Andrew Evans, articulated clearly his desire to fundamentally change the role of community pharmacy which involves providing more patient services and, critically, to ensure there is sufficient funding to achieve that.

This follows the recent decision by the Welsh Government to allocate £100k for enhanced minor ailments training for community pharmacists. This is in addition to funding for more independent pharmacy prescribers. Funding in Wales for enhanced services has grown from £3.9m in 2016-17 to £6.7m in 2018-19.

Add to that the recent report from the Welsh Pharmaceutical Committee – a statutory advisory body  – which sets out an exciting vision for community pharmacy in the years ahead and I have to say all credit to Wales: they have recognised that community pharmacy is a critical catalyst in transforming our national healthcare service to deliver better patient care alongside and in partnership with our GP colleagues.

Yet Wales is still tied to the outcomes of the English community pharmacy funding contract, but how long before that changes? I can see Wales pressing ahead and innovating to meet the particular patient needs of those in Wales.

Scotland – to its credit – is still trailblazing community pharmacy as local healthcare hubs preventing illness from arising, treating minor ailments and preventing chronic conditions from getting worse.

Northern Ireland – despite its regressive funding situation – is also somewhere where there is huge potential for innovative thinking and service delivery.

Which leads us to England. The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has often said he is a fan of the French model for community pharmacy. I have looked at that model and the French government has decided to shift the balance of funding from dispensing to the provision of patient services. The kind of services which the French government envisages – from vaccinations to medicines use reviews to health checks – are similar to those provided in many parts of the UK: the difference is that that the French healthcare system is making available the funding to make that service provision a reality.

Therefore, if Matt Hancock believes community pharmacy does and can increasingly make a difference in delivering improved healthcare outcomes then make available the funding required and put an end to this death-by-a-thousand cuts approach adopted by the DHSC and rejected in Scotland and Wales.


Steve Anderson