The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has described today's (20 October) Department of Health announcement about cuts to pharmacy services as a "slap in the face" for hardworking pharmacy teams and for millions of concerned patients.
NPA chairman, Ian Strachan, said today: “The Government’s approach shows a complete disregard for the community pharmacy sector and the wellbeing of patients. This is slap in the face for hardworking pharmacy teams and for concerned patients."
Referring to the petition against the cuts, he said: “Millions of worried patients have asked the Department of Health to think again. Politicians from all parties are against the cuts...Yet elements within Government seem determined to press ahead with this damaging experiment, deaf to the nationwide protests. It is clear that they believe there are too many pharmacies and want closures. In the long run, thousands are at risk, unless there is a change of mindset and a change of direction amongst Ministers and officials."
Mr Strachan expressed concern that parts of Government and NHS views pharmacy as merely a distribution point for medicines. "Local pharmacies are so much more than that – they are a vital health and social care asset at the heart of communities."
The NPA has vowed to fight on and is urgently seeking safeguards against the impact of the cuts, to protect vulnerable patients and communities. “This is far from over," said Mr Strachan. "We will fight on in the light of today’s announcement. What gives us grounds for hope is the unprecedented level of public awareness and active political support that has been generated over the past months. This will form the basis of an ongoing effort to fundamentally shift the direction of Government policy, so that pharmacies are seen as a solution to deep-seated problems in the NHS, not as a problem.
“Our most urgent task now is to defend against the most damaging potential consequences of the cuts. We owe it to the millions of patients who have supported us to continue to safeguard the pharmacy services they rely on.
“This issue goes far beyond the funding cuts imposed for 2016/18 and is ultimately about keeping the ‘community’ in community pharmacy. We want to engage in a programme of investment and improvement which builds on the strengths of our sector rather than seeks to dismantle it. The Government has said it wants to see pharmacies do more in urgent care and long-term conditions – now they must prove that they mean it, by changing course and investing in the sector for the long term.”