MP for Redcar, Anna Turley, today challenged the Government in the House of Commons on the impact of funding cuts for community pharmacies.
Government proposals to reduce funding for community pharmacies by 12% this year and a further 7% reduction next year put a quarter of Teesside chemists at risk of closure and could force many more to scale back services. In Redcar that means 5 are at risk of closure and 35 across the whole of Teesside.
Negotiations on a new funding package for community pharmacies broke down earlier this month and the Government intend to force the proposals through.
Speaking in a Commons debate called by Labour on the cuts, Anna challenged Health Minister David Mowat MP on the impact closures will have on communities isolated by bus service cuts:
“Pharmacies are right at the heart of communities and, as has already been mentioned earlier today, access to these services is absolutely vital. In areas like his and mine, we know that bus services are being cut and people are finding it difficult already to access these services. The idea, as the Minister said, that it is a matter of seconds between pharmacies, is nonsense, and would he like to comment on how important the access for the community is to our pharmacies?”
Anna also questioned the Minister on whether the Government had taken into account the impact the proposals will have on the wider health service:
“Does my honourable friend agree with me that an impact assessment would have been useful in terms of what the knock on effect will be for the NHS itself more broadly?
“Because we know that 1 in 4 patients will potentially go to seek an appointment with a GP that they would have sought with a pharmacist.
“We’ve heard nothing from the Government on what the knock on effect will be and what investigation they’ve done to assess that.”