Pharmacy Voice responds to damaging Government plans to cut sector’s funding

Pharmacy Voice has reacted with anger and disappointment at today’s news that the Government has failed to agree the funding package for community pharmacy for 2016-17, and that the sector now faces an imposition of dramatic cuts over the next 18 months.

With the sector now facing cuts of hundreds-of-millions of pounds from December, the Government risks putting patient care, services, local businesses and jobs at risk.

The news of the scope and scale of the cuts follows a series of delays in decision-making from the Department of Health as it was forced to shelve key aspects of the reforms and struggled to respond to concerns raised by community pharmacists, MPs from all parties and the 2 million people that signed the largest health related petition in the country’s history.

Pharmacy Voice Chair, Claire Ward, said: “This is a bitter blow to community pharmacy after all our hard work to demonstrate the value we bring to the NHS, public health system and wider society.

“Through the counter-proposals and the Community Pharmacy Forward View, the sector has advanced a future for the sector that will not only enhance efficiency but will also ensure its long-term future, with patients at its heart. The fact that the Government currently appears to be unwilling to match our ambition – despite the evidence, its own warm words for the sector and the out-pouring of support from pharmacy users – is extremely disappointing.

“Nonetheless, we remain committed to working in partnership with national and local colleagues, and to playing our part in relieving pressure on our hard pressed GPs and A&E departments.

“Attempts to justify these cuts with superficial arguments about pharmacy clustering, inefficiency and investment in ‘pilot schemes’ have been misleading, and are quite simply not supported by the facts. I fear that the burden of these changes will now fall on those least able to bear it.  We will be closely monitoring and highlighting the impact the cuts have on pharmacy teams and their patients over the coming months.

“At the same time, we will continue to work with our members and other national pharmacy bodies to support the ongoing campaign and to advocate for the long-term plan for the sector within the Community Pharmacy Forward View.  We will build on the enormous good-will we have generated within Parliament, amongst the public and with NHS and Local Government colleagues in support of an expanded role for pharmacy within primary care and public health.

“In the meantime, I continue to urge the Government to halt these damaging and costly plans, and instead take up the sector’s offer to work in collaboration and partnership to secure the clinical services, employment opportunities, and community support that pharmacy teams across the country are uniquely placed to deliver.”