UK media backs community pharmacy after ‘reckless’ cuts

scissors cutting british pounds

UK newspapers are coming out in support of community pharmacy following PSNC’s rejection of the Department of Health’s funding package for 2016/7.

And an unpublished report may show that the Pharmacy Access Scheme, which was designed to reduce the impact on pharmacies of the cuts, may provide support to only 1380 community pharmacies, the Mirror says—around one in 10.

The UK’s community pharmacy sector has over the last year been facing cuts of up to £170 million, with up to 3000 pharmacies facing the threat of closure as a result. The cuts were due to be implemented this month, but were delayed by the new Pharmacy Minister, David Mowat.

Upon receiving the Department of Health’s proposed funding package for the next year, PSNC said it featured “reckless cuts to pharmacy funding that will, if implemented, see patients suffer as services are withdrawn”.

Rejecting the offer, PSNC noted that the proposals:

  • Would reduce funding from December 2016 to March 2017 by 12% on current levels, to set funding for this year at £2.687bn;
  • Would reduce funding for 2017-18 by 7.4% on current levels, to set funding at £2.592bn for that year;
  • Would force pharmacies to reduce staffing and cut back on services; and
  • Are rooted in the government’s professed aim to close pharmacies.

The UK’s Mirror says that a paper on the Pharmacy Access Scheme shows “Ministers will provide extra support to just 1,380 community pharmacies of the 11,674 across England.

“And ‘only a handful’ of those will be saved because the local area is particularly deprived or has high numbers of sick and elderly people, the report says.

“The rest of the relief cash will simply be handed out to pharmacies in areas which do not have another chemist within a mile.”

Meanwhile, the Express asks: “What on earth is the Government thinking in cutting funding that could force the closure of 3,000 high-street pharmacies?” in a piece titled: “Mass chemist closures will RUIN communities“.

Another Express piece calls the funding decision a “Prescription for disaster“— “A furious backlash is underway against ‘reckless and heartless’ cuts to be announced this week that will close thousands of chemists.

“Every one of England and Wales’s 375 councils has voiced opposition to the measures, which critics warn will have ‘unintended and irreversible consequences’,” writes reporter Caroline Wheeler.

And the Independent quoted Julie Cooper, Shadow Minister for Community Health, who 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.”

In giving the Alan Russell Oration at APP2016 earlier this year, PSNC’s Mark Burdon and NPA’s Ian Strachan told Australian pharmacists that the proposed cuts were about “ripping up the profession”.

A petition against the cuts delivered to then British Prime Minister David Cameron in May 2016 attracted more than 1.8 million signatures.

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