Pharmacists highlight more unscheduled pharmacy closures

In just one week, PDA members have submitted more than 50 reports of pharmacy contractors closing pharmacies.

Tue 10th August 2021 The PDA

In response to growing concerns from pharmacists about the consequences for patient care when pharmacy contractors close pharmacies for all or part of a day, the PDA created an online tool for members to identify such incidents. This online tool has been tested in Scotland where there seem to be a disproportionate number of instances being highlighted by newspapers and on social media.

In the first week of the tool being available, the PDA received more than 50 reports of closures.  These were a mix of full day and part-day closures, and were branches of a number of different contractors.

The contract to provide pharmacy services is agreed between the Scottish Government and the employers’ organisation Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS). 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.”

The PDA is aware that NHS Tayside wrote to contractors on 14 May and that NHS Lothian wrote on 2 July to remind them of their obligations to report closures. However, of those reporting closures to the PDA this week 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.

More than 90% of those reporting closures believe that closures have a significant impact on patients and 75% say that closures happen too frequently in their area.

The PDA is the only independent trade union in Scotland exclusively for pharmacists and the largest pharmacists’ membership organisation in the UK. The PDA thank those who have reported closures and encourages members to continue to report any further closures.  The PDA will continue to analyse and highlight such concerns.

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