Approximately 30,000 more patients and concerned citizens are registering their objections each day to Department of Health plans to cut local pharmacy services, said the NPA.
Ian Strachan, NPA chairman, commented that the Department of Health had misjudged the public's strength of support. “It is now absolutely clear that the Department of Health has misjudged how people feel about local pharmacies. Patients value the face-to-face support they get at local pharmacies; getting medicines online or seeing a pharmacist by appointment in a GP surgery is not faintly equivalent to the accessible care available in pharmacies. The Government seems to think that putting a few hundred pharmacists into GP practices is a good swap for the loss of potentially 3,000 community pharmacies. I disagree. And so do at least a million patients and concerned citizens.”
The response to the petition shows how valuable community pharmacy services are, said Rob Darracott, chief executive of Pharmacy Voice. “The vast support that the public has shown for community pharmacy by signing up in the hundreds of thousands to the petition shows just how valuable our services are as part of primary care in England. Many of the most vulnerable people rely on community pharmacies for medicine, public health services and easily accessible healthcare advice. At a time when we know GP services are overstretched it would be madness to disinvest in the healthcare professionals ready to help you on the high street.”
Sue Sharpe, chief executive of PSNC, praised the hard work of pharmacy teams in gaining public support. “It is fantastic to hear that more than one million people have now signed the petition in support of community pharmacy. This is down to the hard work that pharmacy teams have been putting in to get behind the campaign to show the value and importance of our services. In the month leading up to the close of the consultation we must keep this pressure up.
We know just how much local communities across England value their community pharmacies and their support for this petition proves that. The public seems to recognise what the Government so far has not: that community pharmacy teams are vital front-line NHS providers who can give face-to-face healthcare advice and support at a time and place that is convenient for patients.”
The petition will be delivered to Downing Street in May. It reads:
"We, the undersigned, believe that local pharmacies are a vital frontline health service and part of the fabric of communities across England. Under new Government proposals, many pharmacies could be forced to close – depriving people of accessible medicines advice and other valuable support from trusted professionals. It would also put more pressure on GPs and hospital services. In the interests of patient care, we urge the Prime Minister and the Health Secretary to abandon plans that put pharmacy services at risk."