Pharmacy plan spells 'perfect storm' for local NHS

Originally published 14 October 2016. 
Cheltenham's former Liberal Democrat MP has condemned the Conservative government's plans for local pharmacies.  Martin Horwood says the local health and care sector will face a 'perfect storm' if pharmacies are forced to close since they have been building up their role in healthcare for years, taking pressure off local GP surgeries and even A&E departments.
The Liberal Democrat warning comes after the national Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee revealed Department of Health plans to cut pharmacy funding by 12% from December.  Sue Sharpe, chief executive of the PSNC, has been quoted as saying the changes were "madness" and has written to the government saying "the proposals were, and remain, founded on ignorance of the value of pharmacies to local communities, to the NHS, and to social care, and will do great damage to all three. We cannot accept them."

Martin Horwood repeatedly highlighted the value of local pharmacy services when he was MP for Cheltenham.  He said: "For years, we have been supporting local pharmacies to offer a greater range of advice and services from flu vaccination to straightforward advice on prescriptions and treatments to tests for blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.  Part of that deal is the funding national government provides to pharmacies to take the pressure off local GPs and NHS services who are all under tremendous strain now.  If people get the advice or the test from their pharmacy, they never need to see their GP or get so worried they end up going to A&E quite unnecessarily, leaving those services the time to see the patients who really need their help."

"The government says these are businesses. So are GP surgeries, but pharmacies are still part of the health care network in this country.  And a huge amount of pharmacy advice and care isn't delivered by huge companies like Boots - it's delivered by great local companies like Badhams."

"With more and more NHS trusts like ours now going into deficit and social care passing more problems onto the NHS because of shortage of funds, this could add up to a perfect storm for local health and social care.  If pharmacies start closing as well, the pressures on Cheltenham General and on local GPs are only going to get worse."

  • BBC coverage of today's revelations from the PSNC can be found here
  • The range of health serviuces offered by just one local chain of pharmacies - Badhams - can be found here

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