New health secretary committed to pharmacy, NPA conference told  

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) conference heard today (5 July) that Sajid Javid, the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, is committed to community pharmacy and has already had talks on the subject with Public Health Minister Jo Churchill.

Jo Churchill told the audience of independent pharmacy owners and health service stakeholders: “The new secretary of state and I have already had conversations about pharmacy and its value to the system, so I’m sure that commitment is there.  As a government, we are committed to the idea of community pharmacy as the first port of call for minor illnesses and having a key role at the heart of primary care and prevention.” “I believe you have an essential role as part of the NHS family and bring amazing value to local communities”, she added. During her 30-minute address, the Minister thanked pharmacies for going “above and beyond” during the pandemic. She said that she, Sajid Javid and his predecessor Matt Hancock were all grateful for the work of pharmacies in supplying vital medicines and keeping people safe. She expected the number of pharmacist-led Covid vaccination sites to go up “by hundreds”. The NPA conference continues online until Thursday. …

Pharmacy Minister backs new plan to beat COVID and rebuild NHS  

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) today launched “a bold plan” for England’s community pharmacies to protect the population from COVID-19, improve access to primary care and prevent ill health.

Speaking at this week’s NPA conference, Public Health Minister Jo Churchill MP said she is “encouraged” by the plan and wants to see community pharmacy sitting at the heart of primary care. The plan, called How We Can Help, argues that pharmacies are well placed for a central role in delivering booster COVID-19 vaccinations, allowing GPs to focus on clearing the care backlog in the NHS. It highlights pharmacists’ strong face-to-face relationships with patients and years of experience delivering flu vaccines.  It also covers pharmacy’s broader potential in preventing ill health, managing long term conditions and providing access to care near to where people live, work and shop. NPA chair, Andrew Lane, said: “Today we’re launching the National Pharmacy Association’s bold plan to unleash the potential of community pharmacy in England. Provided there’s sufficient ongoing support from government and NHS, pharmacies can help get the country through the pandemic, help the NHS catch up on lost ground and be a foundation stone for better care in the future.  Pharmacies have been central to the NHS response to Covid throughout, and you can be sure that the end of lockdown won’t be the end of the story of our sector’s epic contribution.…

Mayor of London in awe of community pharmacy

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has described community pharmacy teams as “unsung heroes” during the pandemic and said it was in the interests of government to inject more funding into the sector.

The comments were made during a In Conversation with Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London event organised by the Asian Media Group and Eastern Eye newspaper on Thursday (29 April). NPA chief executive, Mark Lyonette asked the Mayor, “Would the Mayor like to take this opportunity to thank the capital’s 1800 community pharmacy teams for staying open throughout the pandemic, thereby keeping the wheels on the NHS and maintaining access to advice, medicines and vaccines?” Mr Khan responded that he was “in awe and grateful for our pharmacy teams across London” and described them as “unsung heroes.” “I’ve been to pharmacies in many occasions over the last few weeks and months, not least receiving my flu jab. I have asthma so I go to a pharmacy regularly. Many people couldn’t go see their GP, they couldn’t get an appointment they didn’t have the confidence to use technology. The human beings that were available, that were the experts, were pharmacists. “I’m so in awe and grateful of pharmacies across our city. Many of them are small independent family businesses and they have shown the public how brilliant they are.” Jignesh Patel, from Rohpharm pharmacy in Newham, asked the Mayor about pharmacy funding. The Mayor responded that there is a strong economic case for investment in pharmacies and that London needs a strong network of pharmacies to help handle the next pandemic, when it comes.…

Natural justice demands repayment of Covid costs, says NPA, as annual contract negotiations begin

  The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee announced today that formal tripartite negotiations on the arrangements for the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) in 2021/22 have begun. They also confirmed that there is still no resolution on the extra costs borne by pharmacies in England to operate during the pandemic. NPA chair, Andrew Lane, said: “It is massively disappointing that pharmacies are still waiting for a resolution on Covid costs. The Prime Minister’s warm words about the heroics of pharmacy teams during the pandemic will sound very hollow unless he keeps his promise to reimburse pharmacies for the costs they have incurred to keep vital services running. “Community pharmacies have kept their side of the bargain – staying open to keep people well, save lives and help the country out of lockdown.  In so serving the nation, pharmacies have incurred considerable extra costs that natural justice demands to be repaid. “The NHS would not have been able to cope over the past 12 months without an accessible network of pharmacies near to where people live, work and shop. “We need this sorted quickly, to avoid a collapse in morale and the acceleration of pharmacy closures.” The negotiations announced today are between PSNC and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) supported by NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I).  …

NPA reaches 100 years milestone

One hundred years ago this week, the National Pharmacy Association held its first board meeting at the Hearts of Oak Friendly Society in Euston Road, London.

To mark the NPA’s centenary, MPs have offered their congratulations in the form of a parliamentary Early Day Motion. A celebratory webinar, due to take place on Wednesday evening, was postponed in light of the official week-long period of mourning for the death of Prince Philip. That event will instead take place on Wednesday 28 April (registration is at www.npa.co.uk/news-and-events/events/celebrating-100-years). The parliamentary motion, tabled by Scottish Nationalist MP, Dr Lisa Cameron, and co-signed by MPs from parties across the House of Commons, reads: That this House congratulates the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) as it celebrates 100 years of serving community pharmacies in the UK; notes that the NPA has helped its members through enormous change, including the formation of the NHS in 1948, the overhaul of medicines regulations in 1968, the massive expansion in the range of medicines available to patients and the establishment of new roles in public health, urgent care and managing long term conditions; recognises the vital contribution of pharmacies today, especially in the light of their work during the covid-19 pandemic; and looks forward to pharmacies playing an important role in the health, wellbeing and daily life of our communities in the years to come. The first board meeting in 1921 saw chairman John Deakin address the newly elected Executive Committee and outline the course that the new organisation (then called the Retail Pharmacists’ Union) should pursue.…

Pharmacy funding petition leaps to 89,000 following protests in key constituencies

Thousands more people have signed a petition calling on the government to recompense pharmacies for the extra costs they have incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, following protests by National Pharmacy Association members in the parliamentary constituency of chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Over 88,600 people have now signed the petition, up from approximately 50,000 three weeks ago when NPA members began campaigning in the constituencies of the Chancellor, Prime Minister, Health Secretary and other key ministers. The petition, launched in December and backed by grassroots campaigning organisation 38 Degrees, highlights that many independent pharmacies are in deficit and calls on the government to keep its promises to support the sector. NPA Chair, Andrew Lane, said: “Recent campaigning by NPA members in key constituencies has given fresh impetus to the petition. Patients and citizens are taking the opportunity to have their say on a matter of great significance to their daily lives – the viability of their local pharmacies and the future of vital NHS services.” The NPA is also asking pharmacists, their families and others working in and around the sector to sign the petition. Anyone wishing to do so should go to https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-our-local-pharmacies-2 The petition reads:   For months, pharmacy teams across the UK have been working without respite on the NHS frontline, playing a vital role in the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and helping reduce the pressure on GPs and A&Es. But the government hasn’t done enough to give community pharmacies the money they need to meet the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.…

MPs debate pharmacy and the impact of Covid-19

MPs discussed the impact of Covid-19 on community pharmacy and funding arrangements for the sector, during a House of Commons debate this week (Thursday 11 March).

Led by the chair of the All-Party Pharmacy Group, Jackie Doyle-Price MP, the debate drew on the findings of the December 2020 All-Party Pharmacy Group Covid-19 Inquiry Report which showed that many pre-existing challenges had been amplified by the pandemic. Seventeen MPs took part in the debate, including Pharmacy Minister Jo Churchill and her Labour Party opposite, Alex Norris. Jackie Doyle-Price and several others argued for a more secure financial footing for the community pharmacy sector. “My challenge is for DHSC and the NHS to properly look at how they can make sure pharmacies get a fair deal,” she said. Several MPs cited an Ernst and Young report commissioned by the NPA in 2020, which predicted that the average pharmacy will be making an annual loss of £43k by 2024, under current arrangements. Jo Churchill acknowledged that pharmacy teams have “worked unbelievably hard for the past year” and said she is “aware of concerns that current funding isn’t enough”. She continued, “We are still in discussions with the PSNC about the reimbursement of Covid-19 costs incurred by community pharmacy and I can reassure the house that the government will take a pragmatic approach.” Mark Lyonette, NPA Chief Executive said: “The level of parliamentary support for community pharmacy is at an all-time high, which is testament to the heroics of pharmacy teams during the pandemic as well as determined advocacy by NPA members and others.…

NPA members take funding campaign to ministers’ own backyards

Pharmacists in the constituencies of Treasury Ministers and Health Ministers today warned the government not to backtrack on promises to cover Covid-19 costs.

They are displaying posters and distributing leaflets, which warn that funding cuts and Covid costs have taken many pharmacies to the brink of closure. Meanwhile, the NPA has placed adverts in local newspapers and influential political websites, highlighting the £370m-plus Covid costs which the government has so far refused to reimburse pharmacies – despite a clear promise from the Prime Minister. Jonathan Cooper, owner of Coopers Chemists in the Richmond constituency of Chancellor Rishi Sunak in Yorkshire, is joining the protests. He said: “My pharmacy and many others like it have continued to see patients in the community while other parts of the health system could not offer this vital service. Had community pharmacies not worked so hard to keep their doors open during this national crisis, things would have been far worse. As a result we have incurred massive extra costs and the government needs to cover this as promised. We want to give a message to Mr Sunak: our door is open – please let us keep it that way by reversing these devastating cuts!” National Pharmacy Association chief executive Mark Lyonette said: “The government continues to drag its feet over offering proper financial assistance for pharmacies, so this latest campaign initiative brings the matter close to home for the decision makers, in their own constituencies.…

NPA and Reed reach 100 pharmacy job placements milestone

The NPA and Reed have helped to get 100 young people job placements in pharmacy as part of the government’s Kickstart initiative to prevent long term unemployment. Hundreds of more placements are currently being processed. 

Under the scheme, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) pays wages and employment costs for a six-month job placement, for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long term unemployment.  The NPA’s partnership with Reed enables independent pharmacies to take part in the initiative and provides training. Michael Samuel, who has a placement in Evans Pharmacy, Ty Elli in Llanelli, Wales, is the 100th Kickstarter to have started work in a pharmacy via by the NPA and Reed since the start of this year. The 19-year-old, who has never worked in pharmacy before, says he is “really enjoying the experience”. “Everyone is really nice and helpful. Pharmacy appealed to me – It’s a clean environment, there’s also lot of organising to be done, which I enjoy.” Michael has been busy helping serve customers over the counter and processing stock in the pharmacy. He adds: “Working here in the pharmacy has definitely made me think about it as a potential career. “Everyone comes here for a bit of hope. I feel good that I am helping the community in some way.” Mo Nazemi, the owner and Managing Director of Evans Pharmacy, Ty Elli has two Kickstarters in his pharmacy, including Michael. …

First day at work for NPA ‘Kickstarters’

The first young person to land a work placement in a community pharmacy, as part of a government scheme via the NPA and Reed, started their first shift this week.

With the help of the NPA and Reed, the recruitment company, Balvinder Singh Nijjar, Director of Faith Pharmacy in Manchester, applied to have a young ‘Kickstarter’ working in his pharmacy. Under the Kickstart scheme, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) pays wages and employment costs for a six-month job placement, for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long term unemployment.  The NPA’s partnership with Reed enables independent pharmacies to take part in the initiative and provides training. Balvinder says: “We applied for the scheme to give somebody a chance so they could see what pharmacy was all about. “We have a senior member of staff helping her get familiar with the pharmacy. She can observe other staff and how they give advice over the counter and operate the till.  “If she can achieve the Medicine Counter Assistant certificate from the NPA, confidence in a workplace and some knowledge of dispensing it will put her onto a good start to carry on further.” Nicole Wilson, the Kickstarter who started her first day at Faith Pharmacy on Monday (8) says: “I like learning new skills as well as being able to give back (to health services and the community).…