Pharmacies in England could face ‘catastrophic’ cuts in funding from Government

‘It is madness and it is so damaging to the people who use pharmacies every day’

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England’s pharmacies are facing “damaging” Government cuts which could force some to close, the industry’s negotiating body has warned.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said it has been told it faces cuts of 12 per cent in the current financial year, with more to follow in the year after.

Sue Sharpe, chief executive of the PSNC, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the changes would throw the health service into “chaos”, as more people would be forced to turn to GPs instead of pharmacists.

“It is madness and it is so damaging to the people who use pharmacies every day, it is so damaging to the NHS and it so damaging to social care because a lot of this burden will fall on the NHS in other places and on social care,” she added.

However, the Department of Health said no final decisions had been taken regarding funding levels for pharmacies. A spokesperson added: “We want to modernise the pharmacy sector – giving patients the best care by making the most of pharmacists’ skills. That’s why we are investing £112m to deliver a further 1,500 pharmacists in general practice by 2020.

“We have worked collaboratively with the PSNC and have listened to their suggestions and counter-proposals over the course of many months. Ministers are considering a proposed package for the sector and no final decision has been taken, but we are committed to offering more help to those pharmacies people most depend on compared to others.”

In a letter to the department, according to the BBC, Ms Sharpe said pharmacies in England were facing cuts of £113m in the final three months of the current financial year with further cuts of £200m (7 per cent) in 2017-18.

“The proposals were and remain founded on ignorance of the value of pharmacies to local communities, to the NHS and to social care, and will do great damage to all three. We cannot accept them,” Ms Sharpe wrote.

Responding to the reports Julie Cooper MP, shadow minister for community health, said: 

“Local pharmacies are part of the life blood of communities up and down the country and many people depend on their local pharmacy.

“These budget cuts could be catastrophic for many of these already struggling pharmacies, and any closures would significantly increase the pressure on our already over-stretched hospitals and GP surgeries.

“The Department of Health needs an urgent rethink on this policy, and to reassure us that they are going to support, not cut, local community pharmacies.”