Burnley MP Julie Cooper has slammed the Government over its “ill-conceived and simplistic cuts” to community pharmacies.
The Labour MP, who ran a pharmacy with her husband before entering Parliament, was speaking in the wake of impending government funding cuts.
The Burnley Express revealed on Tuesday that the government will cut the funding pharmacies get by 12% in the first year and 4% next year, followed by an extra cut of 7% the following year. Around two million people have already signed a petition against the proposal.
The change in the funding structure, which came into effect in December 2016, gives pharmacists less money for dispensing prescriptions.
As a result, smaller independent pharmacies, say they are feeling the pinch.
Mrs Cooper said: “The Government appears to have forgotten that community pharmacy is for many the gateway to the NHS, in fact for many it is a lifeline.
“Of all the health professionals, the community pharmacist is the most accessible and provides continuity of care in a health service that is struggling to recruit and retain staff.
“Far from being a costly drain on NHS resources, community pharmacists actually save the NHS money through a schemes including minor ailments services, smoking cessation programmes and medication reviews.
“They have an enormous impact on the promotion of health and well-being which can reduce demand on the NHS overall. It is highly likely that the Government’s plans will force the closure of many pharmacies and will result in others having to reduce the services which they offer.
“When they close, where will that demand go? It won’t just disappear. Some will pack out already stretched GP surgeries while others head off to an A and E department which is already struggling to cope.”
The shadow health minister vowed to press the health minister to discuss other alternatives with pharmacists.
She added: “I want the Minister to discuss with pharmacists how they can further ease the burden on the wider NHS in a planned and cost effective way, rather than forcing through these ill-conceived and simplistic cuts.”