Cuts ‘could close at least 20 Doncaster pharmacies’

Caroline Flint with Michael Dugher and concerned South Yorkshire pharmacists

Caroline Flint with Michael Dugher and concerned South Yorkshire pharmacists

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At least 20 community pharmacist shops could close in Doncaster due to cuts, it is claimed.

The fears have been raised in parliament as MPs debated a planned Government modernisation the system.

Doncaster Central MP Rosie Winterton told the debate: “Doncaster pharmacists have told me that at least 20 pharmacies in the town will close as a result of the cuts.

“That is their estimate, on the ground.

“They have also told me that the Government should sit down with pharmacists and engage in meaningful discussions about pharmacy delivery.

“For example, setting up a minor ailments service and cutting the drugs budget could possibly save the NHS £5 million in Doncaster and £650 million overall.

The concerns come after the Government announced plans they believe will modernise community pharmacies and ensure a better quality service for patients.

The Government is cutting the budget from £2.8 billion to £2.6 billion.

It is also removing the £25,000 “establishment payments” which most pharmacies receive annually.

Labour says the cuts amount to 12 per cent in real terms this year, with another 7.4 per cent axe due to fall next year.

The Government says the way community pharmacies are rewarded and funded for NHS services was last reviewed 10 years ago.

New measures, supported by NHS England, will include the first ever reward system for pharmacies that are providing a high quality service.

During the past decade the budget for community pharmacy has gone up by more than 40 per cent, say ministers. Ministers say they will ensure people in isolated areas with higher health needs will have access to a pharmacy through a new Pharmacy Access Scheme and say two fifths of pharmacies in England are within 10 minutes’ walk of two or more other pharmacies.

Health Minister, David Mowat said: “Patients deserve the best possible care which is why this Government is committed to building a modern pharmacy sector that is fit for the 21st Century. Pharmacists are a vital source of knowledge and information, as well as providing essential services such as flu jabs, health checks and, of course, dispensing vital medicines.

“Far from jeopardising services, our modernisation package will make the most of these skills and transform how pharmacists and their teams operate in the community, ensuring the public receives the very best care in the places they need it, seven days a week.”

A number of pharmacists from Doncaster made the journey to London to raise their concerns about the changes, meeting Doncaster MP Caroline Flint and Barnsley MP Michael Dugher at the Houses of Parliament.

Ms Flint said: “Hundreds of my constituents have contacted me about the Government’s cuts to funding of community pharmacies. I do not want their voice to be ignored.”