A Harrogate pharmacy has urged customers to sign a petition against Government cuts which could force up to 3,000 pharmacies to close across the country.
James Springell, manager of Kings Road Pharmacy, said that even if the £170 million reduction in funding doesn’t force pharmacies to close, many local chemists could have to make job cuts which would result in some services being scrapped.
Mr Springell, who has been a pharmacist for 17 years, also fears that smaller branches, particularly those in more rural locations, will be among those hit the hardest by the cuts.
He said: “The Government is expecting between 1,000 and 3,000 pharmacies will close and obviously every pharmacy will take a financial hit from this. Each business will deal with that in different ways, including cutting hours for staff or losing services.”
Local pharmacies rely on the NHS for 90 per cent of their income, receiving an average of £220,000, mainly through fees for handling prescriptions.
Services which are currently available such as Medicines Use Reviews, advice on new medicines, flu vaccinations and free prescription delivery, could be under threat, according to Mr Springell.
He added that the cuts were counterproductive to the Government’s insistence that patients should visit pharmacies more, rather than their GP surgeries or A&E departments at hospitals.
“There are so many people we deal with on a daily basis who rely on a pharmacy for their health care needs. The Government wants to cut down on the workload of A&E departments and GPs, yet they are going to close pharmacies,” said Mr Springell.
The Department of Health said it was “consulting on proposals for a more efficient, integrated, innovative system that reflects patients’ expectations” and more details on the reforms, that will be delivered from October 2016, would be announced next month.
However, Mr Springell argued that pharmacies had already streamlined their services.
He said: “Pharmacies have already cut back staff and made savings where they can. So when they take £170 million out of the budget, that has a big effect.”
Kings Road Pharmacy has a petition available to sign in store, as well as online.
You can also like the “Support Your Local Pharmacy” page on Facebook or visit www.supportyourlocalpharmacy.org for up to date information on the campaign.
Mr Springell said: “Normally as a pharmacist you just generally get on with things quietly, but this time I’m hoping it’s different and I’m hoping everyone stands up and tries to stop the cuts.”