The Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) and its members are acutely aware of the challenges facing the NHS and primary care following the pandemic, especially regarding the workforce and the accessibility of GP appointments. The CCA have, therefore, welcomed the Budget and Spending Review announcements to invest in the healthcare system.
However, the CCA is concerned that the budget announcements make no mention of the community pharmacy sector which remains underfunded and underutilised.
Malcolm Harrison, CEO of the CCA said:
“Community pharmacists have the skills and expertise to support the NHS backlog by alleviating pressures in the primary care system. However, this potential can only be unlocked through long-term and stable investment.
“Community pharmacy has played a key role in the Covid recovery, staying open for patients to access medicines and other essential healthcare services, as well as more recently ensuring people are able to get their Covid and flu vaccinations. With almost 90% of the population living under a 20-minute walk from community pharmacies, the sector is in a prime position to support the Government to fully level up access to healthcare services across the country.”
In recent years, the CCA has become increasingly concerned that the pharmacy profession is experiencing an acute workforce crisis and long-term planning is urgently needed to address this.
Meanwhile, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) English Pharmacy Board Chair has also responded to the Budget, which highlighted the vaccination programme and the crucial role of pharmacists, announced a further investment in the NHS and focused on life sciences.
Commenting on the Autumn Budget and Spending Review, Thorrun Govind, Chair of the RPS in England, said:
“Today’s Budget highlighted the vaccination programme as crucial to supporting the country’s recovery from COVID-19. Pharmacists across the health service have shown how they will be central to maximizing uptake of flu and COVID-19 vaccinations and, as we head into a challenging winter, the Government and NHS must ensure they get the support they need.
“Making a success of the Government’s planned investment in the NHS will now depend on supporting the whole of the health and care workforce to better manage growing demand across the health service. This must be backed by investment in pharmacy education and training to build on pharmacists’ clinical expertise to support patient care.
“Today’s announcement recognises the importance of a better-connected NHS to deliver the best care for patients. Investment in digital technology must include enabling read-write access for pharmacists to a health and care record, wherever they may work.
“We also saw a welcome focus on the UK’s position as a world leader in life sciences. There is a huge potential for innovations such as pharmacogenomic and, with the right support, pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists will be central to leading the advancement and delivery of new therapies and technologies.”