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UK pharmacists are facing a rising number of threats to their business and career prospects.

Delegates at APP2016 heard an impassioned speech from Mark Burdon and Ian Strachan, chairman of the UK’s National Pharmacy Association explaining the potential impact – and the emotional cost – of the heavy funding cuts currently being proposed to pharmacy incomes.

The proposed 6% funding cuts are likely to see between 1000 and 3000 English pharmacies close, the National Pharmacy Association claims.

Strachan said that the scope and scale of the changes are so huge that UK pharmacy should have at least been consulted, rather than receiving an open letter which outlined an intended done deal. Pharmacy has solutions, he says, and is in a far better position to manage volume and therefore cost.

“The Government has got the arrogance to try and rip up a profession… This is what this is about, it’s about breaking up a profession.”

This is rooted in ideology and a desire for automation and digitisation, Strachan says.

The cuts are “an attack on the owner model,” he says and effectively attempt to sever service from supply.

A recent feature article in UK pharmacy magazine Chemist + Druggist examined the attitudes of a range of pharmacists to their possible future within or outside pharmacy.

Independent pharmacist Renee Barai is one that says she is staying put.

She says that pharmacists can offer patients services that no other healthcare professional can, such as medicines optimisation and over-the-counter advice.

For her, “this makes pharmacists an invaluable part of the health service” – something she feels the profession is too slow to shout about. “All of us do a great job,” she says.

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