Stark pic­ture for phar­ma­cies as gov­ern­ment cuts pro­posed

Health com­mit­tee to ex­press ‘deep con­cern’ at plans to re­duce com­mu­nity fund­ing

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - by Camilla Good­man camilla.good­man@trin­i­tymir­ Twit­ter: @Camil­la_Good­man

PRO­POSED cuts in gov­ern­ment sup­port fund­ing could have se­vere ef­fects on the ser­vices of­fered by com­mu­nity phar­ma­cies in Bucks, in­clud­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of up to 20 phar­ma­cies, out of 97, around the county clos­ing com­pletely.

That was the pic­ture pre­sented to Buck­ing­hamshire County Coun­cil’s Health and Adult So­cial Care Select Com­mit­tee (HASC) on Tues­day, May 10 by the Chief Of­fi­cer of Buck­ing­hamshire Lo­cal Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Com­mit­tee and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of lo­cal com­mu­nity phar­ma­cies.

Com­mu­nity phar­ma­cies, those run out­side of NHS premises, are key to strate­gic plan­ning for health and adult so­cial care in Buck­ing­hamshire, be­cause they of­fer an ac­ces­si­ble lo­cal al­ter­na­tive to vis­it­ing a GP or us­ing the 111 ser­vice, with trained health ex­per­tise on hand, of­ten un­til late in the evening.

For some, es­pe­cially the county’s more vul­ner­a­ble res­i­dents and for those in ru­ral ar­eas, phar­ma­cies can pre­vent a trip to A&E.

These phar­ma­cies also pro­vide easy lo­cal ac­cess to flu vac­ci­na­tion, emer­gency con­tra­cep­tion, chlamy­dia test­ing and smok­ing ces­sa­tion ser­vices.

With a re­duc­tion of £170 mil­lion in the fund­ing for com­mu­nity phar­ma­cies planned by the Department of Health to hit na­tion­ally in Oc­to­ber this year, this amounts to a six per cent re­duc­tion in fund­ing across the board.

And with some small phar­ma­cies re­ly­ing on NHS fund­ing for up to 90 per cent of their in­come, this could mean that their busi­ness can no longer sur­vive.

Oth­ers may have to shed jobs and of­fer less ser­vices.

Af­ter hear­ing the ev­i­dence and the opin­ions of mem­bers, the con­sen­sus of the HASC was to com­pose a re­sponse to the cur­rent gov­ern­ment con­sul­ta­tion on the is­sue that ends on May 25.

The re­sponse will set out the com­mit­tee’s ‘deep con­cern’ about the prob­a­ble ef­fects of the cuts, which will dis­pro­por­tion­ately ef­fect res­i­dents in ru­ral ar­eas within the county.

Chair­man of the HASC An­gela Macpher­son said: “I’m most con­cerned by this.

“It looks like a hugely short-sighted cut, be­ing an es­sen­tial ser­vice that is seen by many – na­tion­ally as well as lo­cally – as part of the so­lu­tion to the in­creas­ing cost of health and adult so­cial care, rather than as part of the prob­lem.

“If this goes ahead, it is likely to have an im­pact on our more vul­ner­a­ble res­i­dents, and it will cer­tainly add to the work­load of our GPs and adult so­cial care ser­vices.”

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