2020 was probably the most challenging year that community pharmacy has ever faced, certainly in our professional memory. A combination of the ongoing funding cuts and the COVID-19 pandemic has been a perfect storm for pharmacy owners, pharmacists and their teams. Yet those same people have been magnificent in their response, putting their patients and their communities before themselves.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we all think and act and it has accelerated changes in consumer expectations and behaviours. It has also changed the NHS’s view of community pharmacy and how it may use it in the future as an integrated part of primary care.
Full recompense for COVID related costs remains unresolved and negotiations on additional funding within the CPCF 5-year deal show no progress. The Government, NHSE&I and DHSC have demonstrated no apparent willingness to recognise the contribution that community pharmacy has and is making to the health of the population beyond words of thanks. Those words are welcomed but they do not pay the bills.
Large multiple pharmacy groups have already announced significant remodelling plans in response to the challenges, but where does that leave independent pharmacy?
The outcomes of our research through conversations and working in and with independent pharmacies has shown that they and their teams are facing a number of critical problems:
- Personal strain
- Feeling out of control and overwhelmed
- Team performance
- Capacity and time
In addition, new and extended services have been announced including GP referrals into the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service and the Discharge Medicines Service. These and others in the CPCF pipeline are welcomed as part of a further integration into health provision in primary care. However, there is no new funding associated with these, only recycled money from discontinued MURs and the Establishment payment.
Pharmacy must find a way to take back control; to create the time, capability and energy to embrace and deliver these services, but also to develop their non-NHS service and OTC healthcare income.
Pharmacy owners can delay no longer, there is an urgent need to develop their own recovery plan. The arrival of a new year provides an opportunity to resolve to do just that.
The Pharmacy Complete Reset and Recover Programme has been developed utilising all our knowledge, skills and experience and is designed to support all the required elements to help address these problems and create an effective business recovery plan specific to community pharmacy. Click on the link above to find out more and see how we can help you.