Local pharmacies have been around for generations

Helping you, your parents and your grandparents. If you want your local pharmacies to be there to help the generations to come, READ ON…

Questions and Answers

What is this all about, in a nutshell?

The Department of Health (DH) has indicated it believes that there are up to 3000 too many pharmacies in England.  At the same time, they have proposed a series of policy measures which would divert investment from local pharmacies to other care settings or to online suppliers of medicines.  Beyond this, there is little detail about the Government’s plans.  Nevertheless, it is easy to see that the current direction of policy, if not challenged, will lead to a serious fracturing of the pharmacy network in England.

Why are people saying that the Government’s proposals are wrong?

The Government is conducting a dangerous experiment which will see pharmacies close, thereby reducing people’s access to medicines and healthcare advice, and putting extra pressure on GPs and hospitals.   The proposals put at risk a part of the health system that holds the key to solving many of its problems. Patients would be the biggest losers.  There are particular concerns about the risks to the most vulnerable people and the most deprived communities, where local pharmacies are often (literally) a lifeline.

What’s wrong with getting my medicines online?

People should be able to have a choice about where they get their medicines.  Online supply is convenient for some.  But your local pharmacy is more than just a place to get medicines and should not be put at risk.

Everyone is facing cuts. Why should pharmacies be any different?

This is about much more than funding cuts.  The Department of Health recently announced substantial cuts to the funding of community pharmacies in England and more cuts will follow – but that is not really the full story issue.  This is actually about the vision for pharmacy in the long term.  For pharmacists, it’s about keeping the ‘community’ in community pharmacy.

What’s the answer?

Ministers and officials should pause and reflect, and not rush to implement policies that may have unintended and irreversible consequences for local pharmacies and the people they serve.  There should be an opportunity for more patient input and also for expert analysis of how the plans could affect patient care.   In particular, the Government should consider whether the proposals are safe, maintain consumer choice, safeguard the most vulnerable patients, and maximise pharmaceutical care in the most deprived communities.

What can I do about it?

You can help in a number of ways, including by writing to your local MP.