The National Pharmacy Association (NPA), which represents community pharmacy, commissioned Ernst & Young to prepare a report.
Published in September 2020, the report provides an overview of the activities and value delivered by community pharmacy in England, as well as its financial position and sustainability.
The report found that whilst the NHS wants an expanded role for pharmacy, financial pressure undermines that strategy. Whilst pharmacist consultations and other services can relieve pressure on GPs and planned care services, 87% of pharmacies report they cannot afford to take on the staff to provide more services.
The report recommends that the NHS should understand that the contraction of community pharmacy limits the health system’s ability to deal with crises and spikes in demand such as winter pressures. Closures will limit access to essential health services in unprofitable areas. Consequently, the NHS should alter its funding to ensure that community pharmacy is viable. Regulation should be adopted to oversee the relationship between community pharmacy and its monopolistic purchaser and so mitigate the risks associated with it.
The report concludes that the current financial arrangements stand the community pharmacy network is unsustainable.