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Patient safety

Financial pressures make it 'difficult' to maintain a safe service, NPA survey says

The vast majority of respondents to a National Pharmacy Association (NPA) member survey said that current financial pressures were making it “more difficult for pharmacies to maintain a safe service to patients”.

The survey, which was carried out at the beginning of 2019 and had 250 responses, also found that 89% of pharmacists said that their total monthly wholesaler bills had exceeded their NHS payments at least once in the previous six months, with 70% reporting that this had occurred more than once.

Meanwhile, almost a third (31%) said they had asked their wholesaler to extend their credit during the previous year.

Commenting on the survey results, a spokesperson for the NPA said: “Many pharmacies have reluctantly reduced staff in response to funding cuts and higher business costs. We know that staff shortages are among the work and environment factors that can contribute to patient safety incidents”.

The survey also explored the effect of financial pressure on workforce wellbeing. Some 86% of respondents said they had been affected “mentally or physically” by financial pressures, and 91% said they were “less optimistic about the prospects for community pharmacy” than they were a year previously.

The NPA said that a report on the findings has been submitted “for urgent consideration” to the Department of Health and Social Care.

“We hope the government will see this as further evidence of the need for change, because the current situation is unsustainable”, the spokesperson said.

“We’ve submitted this report to inform government decisions about future investment in the sector and to highlight the need for a more responsive payment system to address problems with cash flow.”


Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206604

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