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Pharmacies Under Threat PDF Print Email

High street pharmacies under closure threat

You may already have heard that the government are proposing budget cuts to the funding pharmacies in England receive.  The Department of Health say they want to have less clusters of pharmacies too near each other and have pharmacies nearer to GP surgeries and care homes.

It is feared that thousands of pharmacies could close making it harder to get medicines supplied in a convenient way.

Nick Jephson runs Kennet Pharmacy with his brother Tim and the pharmacy has been in the family for 50 years.  He said  "We went into pharmacy to help people. Giving out medicines is about trust.  Pharmacy has met its efficiency targets and saved the NHS £11bn in the past decade, so we're pretty lean.  This isn't about turning a profit - it's about keeping our heads above water.  There seems to be a policy mismatch. The government puts out adverts telling people to avoid A&E and their GP, and go to pharmacies first - and yet they're pulling the rug out from under our feet."

The pharmacy is taking part in a petition to support community pharmacy which is available nationwide and already has more than two million signatures.  They have set up a display alerting patients of the prospect of reduced opening hours and possible cuts to their medicines delivery service and half the town’s 8000 residents have signed it..

About 85% of the pharmacy’s income comes from their NHS contract with the rest coming from over the counter sales in the store.

Many customers are concerned they will lose the personal touch that comes from knowing their pharmacist so well and the easy accessibility if they have a concern when it can take up to three weeks to see a doctor.

The Department of Health says 40% of pharmacies in England are in a cluster with at least two others 10 minutes' walk away.  There is talk of dispensing medicines becoming more automated and a move towards ‘Amazon-style’ delivery service.

A spokesman from the National Pharmacy Association said: "The Department of Health is conducting a dangerous experiment which could see local pharmacies close. Patients would be the biggest losers.

Alistair Burt's successor as pharmacy minister should be given the opportunity to thoroughly review the Department of Health's plans before any steps are taken towards implementation."

The government conducted a consultation which has now closed and unless there's a major revision the proposed £170m funding will happen in October.  While every sector of the health service is having to do their bit pharmacies face challenging times ahead.