Community pharmacy needs to be fully funded to reflect rising costs

McKesson UK CEO Toby Anderson says rising costs are risking the long-term sustainability of community pharmacy.

The increase to the national living wage, whilst good news for many of our colleagues, also means that our operating costs will rise significantly. Like other businesses, this is an expense that we will have to absorb, but the impact for us is compounded by static levels of funding for community pharmacies. The reality is that the Government has frozen our income for eight years which has squeezed our margins and put us under increased pressure to close pharmacies. This seems short-sighted as it prevents us from providing much needed support to communities and, increasingly, delivering services that were once provided by GPs.

We are having to make tough commercial decisions in order to stay competitive and remain a sustainable business that provides employment for over 20,000 people. Additional costs like increases to the living wage make it harder for us to invest and innovate, which ultimately impacts our ability to help our customers and patients by providing vital healthcare services. We need a fair and flexible funding agreement that secures the long-term future of pharmacy. The Government must also help community pharmacies by providing them with the same business rate relief that other NHS contractors such as GPs and dentists have.

We are committed to providing our employees with fair and competitive pay that reflects the work they do. Our people are the most prized asset we have, but for community pharmacy to reach its true potential, it needs to be fully funded rather than hampered with more costs.