MP warns up to 32 pharmacies could be under threat as Government cuts bite
Sheffield MP, Louise Haigh, today spoke out during a debate on pharmacies in the House of Commons as the full impact of a £170m cut to community pharmacies announced in December becomes clearer.
Nationwide there are fears that as many as 3,000 pharmacies could be forced to close as a result of the cuts. With as many as 1 in 4 pharmacies due to close according to suggestions from the Health Minister, that could mean that of the 128 pharmacies across Sheffield as many as 32 could close.
There are fears that such a closure programme would put local health services under severe strain with research from YouGov for Pharmacy Voice demonstrating that in deprived areas four in five people who would usually go to pharmacies would instead access their local GP services.
The NHS budget is already facing a record deficit and now it has been revealed that a GP consultation costs around £20 a time more than a visit to the local pharmacy. With 1.2m people visiting a pharmacy every day widespread closure could have a devastating effect on the NHS budget given £2bn is already spent on GP consultations for conditions which pharmacies could treat.
Currently 100% of people in deprived areas and 96% of people nationwide live within a 20 minute walk of a pharmacy. From supporting safe sexual health, smoking cessation, weight management and minor ailments
Pharmacies in Louise’s constituency including Community Pharmacy Sheffield have contacted Louise concerned about the potential impact of these changes.
Commenting, Louise Haigh said:
“Almost everyone uses their local pharmacy and having one close-by is vital. That’s why government cuts which could lead to 32 closures across Sheffield are so damaging. As it stands in areas like ours most people live within a 20 minute walk of a pharmacy – cuts on this scale would leave the elderly and those with health conditions completely isolated and potentially with no choice but to use their GP.”
“Community pharmacies are a vital resource and take some of the strain from GP services which are under unprecedented pressure due to increasing demand and fewer doctors.”
“Apart from treating minor illnesses and dispensing medicine they also make a vital impact on lifestyle changes, helping encourage healthy living. Pharmacies already save the NHS billions every year from dealing with health care in the community and further investment in community pharmacy could save the NHS £1bn per year. Instead the Government are planning to slash these vital community services and damage our health and health service in the process. They must think again.”