UK pharmacy stakeholders have delivered a record-breaking petition in support of community pharmacy to Prime Minister David Cameron, protesting against the slashing of funds to the sector.
The petition reached a “monumental” 1.8 million signatures, according to the National Pharmacy Association.
“The petition has broken all UK records for the level of support it has attracted,” says NPA chairman Ian Strachan, who presented at the APP Conference in Australia earlier this year, on the savage cuts to community pharmacy which would see funding cut by 6%.
“It is clear that the Department of Health has misjudged how people feel about local pharmacies and has not thought through the implication of its policies for those patients and communities in greatest need,” Strachan says.
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s Anthony Tassone told the AJP today that the huge number of signatures on the UK petition indicated consistent public support for community pharmacy.
The Pharmacy Guild has lent its support to the NPA and other organisations in the UK protesting the cuts.
“I think what the petition shows is a clear public statement of the value that they place on their local community pharmacy as a vital part of the local primary care network,” Tassone says.
“And it’s the Government’s responsibility to listen to their views as to how that’s delivered.
UK pharmacy magazine Chemist + Druggist reports that one member of the all-party pharmacy group which presented the petition to the PM, Labour MP Michael Dugher, called the petition “the biggest healthcare petition in history”.
Pharmacy appears to attract record-breaking petitions in its support: in early 2014, the Australian petition organised by the Pharmacy Guild was tabled in the House of Representatives with a whopping 1.2 million signatures: the largest ever number of signatures presented to the House. That petition concerned urging the House to ensure pharmacies received the support they need to stay in business.
“It shows that when the public are made aware of policy that could threaten the sustainability or viability of pharmacies, they clearly support ensuring that their pharmacies are looked after,” says Tassone.
“We’re in close collaboration with our colleagues and sister organisations in the UK and sharing ideas and approaches to advocate to Government to promote the value of community pharmacy.”
A new report from the UK’s Pharmacy Voice has shown that if faced with closure, one in four UK residents who would normally seek advice from their local pharmacy on common ailments would instead make an appointment with their GP.
“This shows that these NHS cuts that would affect pharmacy is poor policy – it’s not addressing delivering health care to the consumer in the way they expect it, and which is in their best interests,” Tassone told the AJP.
“These cuts run contrary to some of the encouraging work that the UK has done around common ailments in the community pharmacy setting – they’re undoing their own good work.”
Image: National Pharmacy Association