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Scottish Government make financial gesture to community pharmacy network

The Scottish Government has implemented an ‘interim cash injection’ of £20m over the remainder of 2023/24 to ease pressures related to medicines price increases on community pharmacy businesses.

Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) has cautiously welcomed this move but warned that given the acute financial pressures on the Scottish network, it will not be enough in the medium to long term.

Commenting on the investment CPS said:

“This is welcome at a time when some of our members report having to borrow to keep their doors open and support their local community’s healthcare needs.

“However, our own investigations show that this is not sufficient to cover the increase in the cost of common medicines. To give some perspective on this, while £20 million appears to be a very big number, it represents only 1.74% of the annual medicine spend for Scotland. We have had reports that costs have increased by over three times this amount. 

“That is why our negotiations must continue and a much-improved offer must be forthcoming from Government colleagues to ensure that current service levels are maintained and access to healthcare is provided.”

NPA Board member for Scotland, Phil Galt, said:

“The collaborative approach taken in Scotland for many years has resulted in world-leading pharmacy services. The manner in which recent negotiations appear to have proceeded is out of character for the Scottish Government, which has until now worked in close partnership with the sector.

“Other parts of the UK and the wider world see Scotland as a showcase for how to successfully expand access to NHS healthcare via pharmacies. It would be a great shame for Scotland’s international reputation to slip, but of course the main concern is the impact on patient services in Scotland.

“The £20 million cash injection announced as an interim measure, although welcome, doesn’t compensate for the vastly increased wholesale price of medicines being borne by our members in Scotland and across the UK.”

This news comes just days after CPS unanimously rejected an initial contract offer for the 2023/24 financial package on behalf of the community pharmacy network in Scotland. CPS has been in negotiations with the Scottish Government on the contract since September 2022 for the financial year 2023/24.

Negotiations will continue.