Pharmacies could close due to cuts

Pharmacies could close due to cuts

2 November 2011


PHARMACIES in Down District could be forced to close, pay off staff or reduce services due to a major funding crisis.

The warning was issued by pharmacy owners at last week's meeting of Down Council's Health Committee

who outlined the impact a £40m cut in the community pharmacy budget will have across the district.

Politicians were told service cutbacks are "inevitable" and this will impact on patients, with the reduction in funding placing a question mark over the future of the collection and delivery of preions service offered by some pharmacies.

Mr. Tim Corrie, who addressed the Health Committee along with Mr. Terry Hannawin and Mr. John Hannawin, said community pharmacies provide a vital frontline service and are a key point of contact for patients.

He continued: "The reduction in the community pharmacy budget is completely unsustainable and the impact on our business will be disastrous. The budget cut is in effect removing a vital primary care resource from vulnerable people in the community."

Mr. Corrie said Gordons Chemists, Northern Ireland's largest independent pharmacy chain, has written to Health Minister Edwin Poots warning of the consequences of the budget cut.

"Gordons has made it clear that the reduction in funding will lead to the 'catastrophic altering' of the community pharmacy infrastructure. The impact of the funding cut is not just about the small guys; everyone is suffering," he continued.

"As we speak, some pharmacies are reducing their opening hours and there is no rhyme or reason for what's happening in terms of reducing the budget. It is complete and utter madness. Our backs are to the wall and no one is listening to us about the impact this will have."

Mr. Corrie also described the amount of drugs and other medications currently being returned by patients to pharmacies for disposal as "obscene," explaining the monetary value of the drugs can run into thousands of pounds.

Mr. Terry Hannawin said community pharmacies are in "crisis," suggesting if Gordons is finding the going tough, small independent contractors "haven't a pup's chance of surviving."

He said no group or sector could withstand having £40m in funding withdrawn. He explained while he understands the NHS is under severe financial strain, removing £40m from the community pharmacy budget is "ridiculous."

He continued: "The services we provide are under threat and we are faced with withdrawing some of them, but would do so with great reluctance."

Politicians agreed at last week's meeting to express their concerns about the

reduction in funding for

community pharmacies

with the Health Minister, in tandem with their anxiety about the number of preion drugs and medications being wasted and the implications this has for taxpayers.