MP backs community pharmacies in cuts battle

November 01 2016

Pharmacies in Bristol could soon face steep funding cuts following government proposals to reduce funding by 12% from December.

kellaway

Pharmacies in Bristol could soon face steep funding cuts following government proposals to reduce funding by 12% from December.

It’s a subject that causes great concern to pharmacist Jess Williams, who has run the Kellaway Pharmacy for the last six years. Jess said: “My chief worry is that I will have to close and I expect  this same risk applies to about half of Bristol’s pharmacies. As a small independent business we don’t have the financial flexibility to adapt. We need the support of our communities to fight this and to ensure our survival.”

Bristol West MP, Thangam Debbonaire, visited Kellaway pharmacy for her winter flu jab and said: “For most people it’s their community pharmacy that they go to when they need a prescription late at night, on Saturday’s, and deliver for free to old or vulnerable people. The Health Minister has said that there will be a review and that they don’t want too many pharmacies in one place but the worry is that it will be the community pharmacies that go and the big chains that stay. Little community pharmacies serve a need that no other pharmacy does. They know the patients and the neighbourhood and the minister could offer no assurances whatsoever.”

Kellaway Pharmacy has been serving the community for more than 80 years but these current plans put its future in doubt. Pharmacies receive around 90% of their income from the money the government pays for dispensing prescriptions and as a business will have to consider withdrawal of services that they currently provide for free to housebound or elderly patients. Jess had been looking at modernising and refitting the branch, and needs to upskill staff but will have to put this on hold until the matter is settled. 

Negotiations about payments to pharmacies have been taking place over the last year and plans for a £170m cut to the pharmacy budget this year were delayed after 2m people signed a petition opposing the change. It costs the taxpayer £2.8bn a year and over 1.5 million people visit pharmacies every day, seeking advice, medication and treatment. The government has announced that the cuts will be imposed from the 1st of December 2016.

A Department for Health spokesman said it is investing £112m to put 1,500 pharmacists in GP's surgeries but many independent pharmacies provide an accessible medical service, open for long hours and at the weekend. A new petition is also now ongoing, see speakout.38degrees.org.uk/campaigns/1478