“It makes no sense” - local pharmacist hits out at proposed funding cuts

Pharmacists have reacted with horror to new plans by the government to cut funding. Photo credit: Be

Pharmacists have reacted with horror to new plans by the government to cut funding. Photo credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire - Credit: PA

A Norfolk pharmacist today sounded the warning bell for local pharmacies after it emerged funding cuts may be imposed by the government.

Tony Dean, chief officer of the Norfolk Local Pharmaceutical Committee, said the situation pharmacists now find themselves in would be 'funny if it wasn't so serious'.

His comments came after it emerged the Department of Health has drawn up proposals to cut funding by 12pc in December. It would mean cuts of £113m to the country's pharmacies in the final three months of the current financial year, with futher cuts of £200m (7pc) in 2017-18.

Earlier the government proposed to cut £170m of funding but halted its plans after two million people signed a petition against the plans.

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis (Labour) said there was no logical rationale for the cuts whatsoever, but the Department of Health said no final decision had been made.

There are 168 pharmacies in Norfolk – which all substantially rely on NHS income to stay in business.

Mr Dean said most pharmacies are contracted to be open 40 hours per week, but many are open 60-70 hours – helping people who would otherwise go to their GPs or A&E.

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'The plan is a massive blow to community pharmacies,' he said.

'It will mean not taking on more staff, reducing opening hours, and put more pressure on GPs.

'At this time when the government is saying people should use pharmacies more it makes no sense for them to impose these cuts.

'Pharmacies save the government more money in the long term. People will be forced to go to A&E out of hours instead of coming to us.'

Mr Dean urged people to write to their local MP to ask them to oppose the cuts.

Labour MP Clive Lewis, who represents Norwich South, said: 'The return of these cuts shows just what a duplicitous, blinkered, and out-of-touch government we've got.

'There is no logical health rationale whatsoever for this attack on our local pharmacies.'

But a Department of Health spokesman said: 'We want to modernise the pharmacy sector – giving patients the best care by making the most of pharmacists' skills,' a spokesman said.

'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. We are committed to offering more help to those pharmacies people most depend on compared to others.'

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