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Pharmacists Sound the Alarm Over Medicine Supply Issues

Pharmacy leaders have raised concerns that patients could be coming to harm as a result of medicine supply issues.

A new poll found that almost 9 in 10 (87%) pharmacy owners and staff believe that patient health was being put at risk because of problems with supply, according to the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) survey of pharmacy owners and teams across England. Almost all (97%) of the respondents reported significant increases in wholesaler and medicine supply issues, and 71% said this was leading to delays in prescriptions being issued. In addition, 84% of pharmacists and community pharmacy staff said that they had experienced aggression from patients due to medicine supply issues.

Shortages in Antibiotics, HRT, Cough and Cold Meds

It comes amid a number of high profile shortages in recent months including certain antibiotics during the Strep A outbreak, some HRT medicines to help relieve menopause symptoms, and even run-of-the-mill cough and cold medicines.

Seven in 10 (71%) said they have problems sourcing medicines for patients, according to the poll of 6200 pharmacy owners and 2000 pharmacy staff. Also, 92% of pharmacy staff said they had seen a significant increase in requests from patients unable to access GP care this year. This increase in demand led 81% to respond that they were struggling to cope due to a significant increase in workload.

Janet Morrison, chief executive of the PSNC, said: "The future of our much-loved community pharmacies is hanging in the balance – our survey paints a devastating picture of staff under unbearable pressures, and businesses on the brink of collapse.

"Costs are no longer manageable for pharmacies as their funding falls every year, and there have been far too many of closures of pharmacies across the country already.

As more and more patients turn to pharmacies when they can't get help from other parts of the NHS, the consequences – should pharmacies be allowed to collapse – are unthinkable.

"People and local communities must have access to the medicines and pharmacy services that they need.

"We need Government and the NHS to step in and prevent this disaster from happening.

"The Government should commission a fully-funded Pharmacy First service – investing in pharmacies like this would not only provide accessible care, but also help put the sector on a sustainable financial footing."

In February, the NHS in England launched a new campaign to urge patients to seek support from their local pharmacy for non-urgent health advice for minor conditions including coughs, aches, and colds.

This article contains information from PA Media