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Primary care already under dire financial strain before Covid-19 crisis hit

Primary care already under dire financial strain before Covid-19 crisis hit
By Awil Mohamoud Reporter
28 April 2020

More than half of pharmacy contractors had thought about selling their business and a quarter of GP partners said they had either merged or considered it in 2019, according to Cogora’s latest annual primary care survey.

A significant portion of the 1,365 GP partners and pharmacy team members we surveyed just prior to the Covid-19 outbreak said growing pressures meant they had to at least consider implementing cost-saving measures.

Seven in 10 pharmacy respondents (contractors and superintendents) said they had either cut or considered cutting staff hours during the year. In relation to GP partners, 17% said the same.

A third of pharmacy respondents said they were considering staff redundancies and one in 10 said they had already made at least one.

The survey, ‘Primary Concerns 2019: The State of Primary Care’, captured the opinions of those in primary care just prior to the coronavirus outbreak.

It showed that primary care remained in crisis in 2019, despite investment and funding measures introduced in the 2019/20 GP contract – lauded as the ‘most significant’ in 15 years.

Half of superintendent pharmacists and GP partners said they had discontinued clinical services or thought about doing so. Also, a third of GP partners said they made or were considering making cuts to routine appointments.

This is a worrying trend, especially given the Government’s drive to boost clinical services in community pharmacy in a bid to put pharmacists on the frontline of primary care and free up resources in general practice.

An average of 52% of pharmacists said they were considering getting rid of free medication delivery services to vulnerable patients and a quarter said they already had.

Financial uncertainty has also carried on into the Covid-19 crisis despite NHS England’s assurance, last month, that funding will be protected.

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