Scottish community pharmacy closures

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has highlighted the problem of Scottish community pharmacy closures in a statement on their website.

They have highlighted a communication sent to community pharmacies in a Health Board in Scotland which they say confirms that the NHS became aware of three closures in that area that week, only due to “third parties” notifying them, despite self-notification of closures being a requirement of the pharmacy contract.

The communication sent on 10th August, which also highlights the “significant impact on direct patient care and access to medicines” caused by closures in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area can be read in full on the PDA website.

The PDA have also claimed that some pharmacy contractors may not be reporting their closures to the NHS, despite this being a requirement of their contract.

The PDA has said:

“As scientists, pharmacists are used to dealing with facts and if contractors are not reporting their own closures, the job of the NHS in understanding and addressing the causes of closures is undermined. Of those who first used the PDA’s tool to advise the union of closures, less than 8% think all temporary closures are reported to the local NHS Health Board by pharmacy contractors and less than 6% think the local NHS monitors and manages this well.”

PDA Director Paul Day commented:

“PDA members are concerned about patients and the damage this could cause to the reputation of the profession. Unless contractors comply with their contract and admit when they have closed their branches, the true scale of the issue will not be known, and only then can the full reasons for closures be understood and addressed.”

Community Pharmacy Scotland, who represent the interests of pharmacy owners in Scotland, have acknowledged that community pharmacy closures are an issue in Scotland at the moment and continue to support their members.

Matt Barclay Director of Operations at Community Pharmacy Scotland said:

“CPS acknowledge the serious issue of pharmacy closures and are working to support where we can on the issue. Our messaging to our members has been consistent about the need for contractors to fulfil and understand their contractual obligations.

“Contractors also acknowledge and understand the seriousness of closures. They are doing their utmost to minimise disruption to services which have been delivered so well by the pharmacy network under the enormous pressure of the Covid pandemic to date.”

In a recent parliamentary response to a question about the monitoring of pharmacy closures, Scottish Government Health Secretary Hamza Yousef said:

“This information is not held centrally. It is the responsibility of territorial Health Boards to ensure there is adequate provision of NHS Pharmaceutical Care Services, working with community pharmacy contractors listed on the Boards Pharmaceutical List.  

“The National Health Service (Pharmaceutical Services) (Scotland) Regulations 2009 set out the responsibilities for community pharmacy contractors to notify Health Boards when there are instances in which the contractor is unable to provide those NHS services.”

Pharmacy in Practice has sent a request to every Health Board in Scotland to seek clarity on this issue.

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