CHEMISTS in the district are urging people to join their fight against NHS cuts – which they claim could have life-threatening consequences.
Around a quarter of the 11,600 pharmacies in England are under threat as a result of Government plans to cut NHS funding by £170million. Petitions have been launched to oppose the cuts. It is predicted chemists in Stratford district could lose some £20,000 in annual funding.
Pharmacist Manjit Singh, from Stratford Pharmacy on High Street, fears patients are going to suffer as a result of the cuts, which he says will have a dramatic impact on the services they can offer, such as free delivery of prescriptions to patients unable to come into store.
He told The Observer: “I think the cuts are a very drastic decision considering community pharmacies have been at the forefront of medical services for so long.
“Patient safety is being compromised by cutting the funding and, as a result, services. We are there to make sure medication is taken properly and can be taken alongside other medication – something patients can’t always go back to their GP to discuss.
“The cuts needed to come in a different way, like the way medication is prescribed – inhalers are often prescribed monthly when in reality they should last at least two months.
“What was once a highly respected profession is going to be made into something devalued and stretched. It’s painful to think what is going to come.”
Research by the National Pharmacy Association shows more pressure would be put on GPs and urgent care services if access to pharmacy services was reduced.
Chief Officer of the Warwickshire Local Pharmaceutical Committee, Fiona Lowe, said: “It was a bit of a surprise when the proposed cuts were announced but we understand in a time of austerity belts need tightening.
“There is a genuine concern about what could happen to patient care and the free services pharmacies provide could struggle to continue.
“It’s a challenging time but the teams in Warwickshire want to show the Government what they do and how much patients appreciate them.
“Really investment in pharmacy services would be a better way to create savings.”
The Department of Health estimates the number of pharmacies it funded between 2003 and 2015 rose by 20 per cent.
And it says nearly half of community pharmacies are within walking distance of each other.
South Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group – which oversees local pharmacy and GP services – had yet to comment as The Observer went to press.
Petitions can be found in most pharmacies in the district.