RESIDENTS ARE being urged to back a ‘support your local pharmacy’ petition to protest against planned multi-million-pound cuts by the Department of Health.
Every day, local pharmacists across Greater Manchester help tens of thousands of people needing medicines, other specialist services or just a bit of expert advice.
But experts say a £170million national reduction – a cut of 6 per cent – planned to take effect from October could have a devastating impact on the country’s 702 community pharmacies.
Ian Strachan, who owns Strachan’s Chemist in Uppermill along with three other in the region, fears the funding reduction mean some pharmacies will have to close their doors.
“The cut would be a massive blow for community pharmacies and one not all of them could survive,” he said.
“It’s important we make the government aware we do not support the plans at all. The time to act is now!”
Ian, who is chair of the National Pharmacy Association, is inviting people to sign the petition – which more than 150,000 people have done nationwide – to voice their worries.
He added: “The petition gives patients a straightforward opportunity to express their concerns, and their support is needed to make the government change from its disastrous course.”
The petition reads: “We believe local pharmacies are a vital frontline health service and part of the fabric of communities across England.
“Under new government proposals, many pharmacies could be forced to close – depriving people of accessible medicine, advice and other valuable support from trusted professionals.
“It would also put more pressure on GPs and hospital services. We urge the Prime Minister and Health Secretary to abandon the plans that put pharmacy services at risk.”
David Walsh, PR lead for Oldham, Tameside and Glossop Local Pharmaceutical Committee, called the plans “nonsensical, profoundly damaging, ill-conceived and counter-intuitive”.
“Pharmacies are businesses. If income falls, they can only survive by cutting costs,” he said. “That could mean job losses, opening for fewer hours or cutting services. If pharmacies still remain unviable, they will face closure.”
Changes proposed include developing large-scale automated dispensing, where medicines are dispensed in a central place, delivered to a local pharmacy, and handed out.
David argued: “This would be very difficult for smaller, independent pharmacies which lack the right infrastructure. Their viability would be seriously threatened.
“The Government’s nod to patient choice is to encourage the development of online prescription ordering, delivery to home or “click and collect”.
“This is all well and good for patients comfortable with computers and modern technology but how will a lot of the elderly and vulnerable cope with the change?”
He added: “We must protect the network of community pharmacies, which has already provided efficiencies, improved access to healthcare and is highly regarded by users.”
Find out more and sign the petition online at: http://supportyourlocalpharmacy.org or visit Strachan’s Chemist on New Street in Uppermill to sign the petition.