‘Serious consequences’ if cuts close pharmacies - warning from Sheringham business chief

A north Norfolk business chief has warned of 'serious consequences' for his town if funding cuts lead to pharmacies closing.

Andy Bullen, secretary of Sheringham Chamber of Trade and Commerce, said the threat to UK pharmacies could have unforeseen consequences for other local businesses.

Sheringham currently has two pharmacies - Lloyds, on Station Road, and Boots, in High Street.

'They bring footfall to the town and if they go then obviously footfall will reduce and that will affect a lot of businesses.

'It could have serious consequences and we are against these cuts,' said Mr Bullen.

'Our demography means we have quite a lot of elderly people here and they depend on the pharmacies. They are the people who use them most.

'It's also a social point for them - where people who live on their own can meet each other.'

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Fears over the future of pharmacies follows an announcement by the government earlier this month that it was pressing ahead with plans to slash funding for community chemists by more than 7pc over the next two years.

Health minister David Mowat told MPs that chemists will lose 4pc of their funding in 2016/17 and a further 3.4pc in 2017/18 - but claimed the changes would improve services.

He stressed the importance of spending taxpayers' money in the most effective way possible, highlighting how many pharmacies were clustered together.

He also said 32 of the most isolated chemists in Norfolk would not have to shoulder such large cuts.

Tony Dean, chief officer of Norfolk Pharmaceutical Committee, has warned that the majority of pharmacies in Norfolk would suffer very badly, cutting back on staff, services or opening times in a bid to try and make ends meet.

Mr Bullen said: 'We were told in September that these cuts were going to be put on hold.

'Now we're told they're going ahead.

'The NHS is pushing more and more work on to pharmacies and yet now they are going to lose their funding - it's a two-edged sword for them.'