As the pharmacy funding cuts hit England, the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has warned that the NHS is taking 'a big step in the wrong direction'.
Cuts of 12 per cent to pharmacy funding in England take effect from today (1 December), which the NPA argues will endanger the country's network of local pharmacies, as well as missing an opportunity to dramatically improve healthcare across the country.
NPA chairman Ian Strachan said: "Today the NHS is taking a big step in the wrong direction. There are two possible futures for community pharmacy – one which makes the most of local pharmacies at the heart of the NHS and one in which locally based care gradually shrinks away and patients suffer the consequences. We are determined that community pharmacy gets on the right path.
“Instead of focusing on the so-called ‘efficiencies’ of automation and online supply of medicines, the Government and the NHS should seek to maximize the benefits of accessible face to face care and local pharmacy premises, which are a tangible community asset. Local pharmacists can do much more to help people manage long term conditions and also to take pressure off GPs and hospitals by offering convenient urgent care services. Sustained investment is needed to unlock pharmacies’ potential – not funding cuts that undermine it."
Mr Strachan went on to criticise the Government for trying to 'de-professionalise' the supply of medicines by increasing use of mail order pharmacies.
He added: “People want to see healthcare professionals face to face; the supply of medicines though the internet is in no way equivalent to the wide range of services you can get at local pharmacies."
In a letter to NPA members, Mr Strachan confirmed that the NPA is consulting with its legal advisors about the next steps of its legal challenge against the cuts, at the same time as continuing with its political and campaigning activities.
He urged independent pharmacists to remain "resillient and strong", reassuring that the NPA would "be with you every step of the way".
To follow the campaign activities, visit: npa.co.uk/step-forward