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UK Government announces deep cuts to pharmacy funding

Published on 21/10/16 at 09:47am

The Department Health announced that it wanted to reduce the £2.8 billion a year funding for pharmacies by 7%, leading to cuts of more than £200 million. The news was met by scepticism by opposition parties, who have suggested that the cuts could result in up to 3,000 pharmacies being forced to close.

There are fears that by forcing the closure of pharmacies around the UK, more pressure will be put on under pressure emergency services and GP offices. David Mowat, health minister, was unable to estimate exactly how many pharmacies would be forced into closure. The reasoning behind the cuts lies in the suggestion that there is a surplus of pharmacies on the high street, with community pharmacies clustered together within walking distance of each other.

David Mowat stated that: "Every penny saved by this reset will be reinvested and reallocated back into our NHS to ensure the very best patient care."

"Far from jeopardising services, our modernisation package will help improve them," he added.

With the NHS currently struggling for funding, it is hoped that this measure of cost cutting will funds to be redirected straight back into the NHS. At present, the NHS funds the average pharmacy to the amount of £220,000, which makes up around 80-90% of the pharmacies’ income. The question is whether these cuts will not increase the pressure on NHS services and GP services, thereby marginalising any savings made.

Sandra Gidley, of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said "We fear for patients, the public and pharmacists who may be significantly affected by changes in opening hours and staffing levels in community pharmacy, as well as the knock on impact on already pressured GP and A&E NHS care."

 Ben Hargreaves

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