On 20th October the government announced their plan to impose huge funding cuts on community pharmacies. This will have significant and adverse effect on the nineteen pharmacies in my constituency of Houghton and Sunderland South, which could put some on the brink of closure as a result.
On Wednesday 2nd November, the Labour Party tabled an Opposition Day motion against the government’s plan to impose budget cuts on community pharmacies, and I voted to support it. The motion calls on the government to protect community pharmacies from service reduction and closure.
Community pharmacies are a core part of NHS primary care, providing essential services and information for self-care for minor ailments and long-term conditions, prevention of ill health, and medication reviews. At a time when the NHS is required to make further savings while having to meet growing demand, community pharmacies have never been more important, and to cut their funding is an irresponsible and counter-productive move.
The plan entails a 12% reduction on the current funding level for the rest of the 2016-17 financial year and a 7% cut next year across England. The government have failed in reaching an agreement with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) and other key stakeholders, and now have decided that they will press ahead with the measure despite strong opposition from the pharmacy sector, the public and parliamentarians. Ministers should put patients’ best interests before making savings, return to the negotiating table with the PSNC and work towards an agreement.