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Pharmacists lack long-term confidence – survey

Uncertainty over reforms and Category M claw-back to blame for this drop in confidence 
Pharmacists lack long-term confidence – survey

Pharmacists in the UK have the lowest long-term confidence in the UK healthcare system when compared to family doctors and dentists.

This is according to a new survey of primary healthcare providers by Lloyds TSB commercial banking's healthcare confidence Index.

It shows a reduction in short-term (next 12 months) confidence amongst pharmacists, while the long-term (over 5 years) figure dropped to the lowest level recorded by any of the three primary healthcare professions in two years of study.

The survey also found that almost two thirds (62 per cent) of pharmacists do not consider the move to GP clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) as 'a good thing' for the profession.

The creation of CCGs was one of the most controversial aspects of the UK Government's Health and Social Care Act (2012), which abolished NHS managers and replaced them with over 200 GP-led clinical commissioning groups.

The survey reveals that pharmacists are now more pessimistic than GPs and dentists over the longer term. This trend is despite signs last year that many pharmacists felt healthcare reforms may be positive for them.

But nearly all questioned (92 per cent) said they believe that financial pressures will increase in the next five years.

In 2012 pharmacists were bullish about increasing their margins over the next 12 months, with nearly 40 per cent of respondents expecting to see a rise in profits - but this has now dropped to just 20 per cent.

One of the biggest problems has been the so-called 'Category M claw-back' that began last October, which sees £72.5m per quarter removed from Category M drug dispensing tariff until the end of 2013.

For for each average practice (with 3,079 dispensing patients) this equates to a loss of £18,700, something that has been criticised by pharmacists who will lose money as a result, and warn that this could have a knock-on effect for patients.

Kevin Nichols, MD of The Pharmacy Consultancy, said: "There's no doubt that the last Category M claw-back has rocked morale throughout the pharmacy sector.

"The degree of optimism we saw pharmacists' exhibit, along with dentists, has well and truly faded and it's because of that issue of uncertainty yet again; uncertainty about how the new system will work and what it will ultimately do to margins and profits."

11th June 2013

From: Healthcare

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