Bucks pharmacies could close as government cuts set to bite

20 out of 97 pharmacies around Bucks could close completely after cuts to government funding it was claimed today.

The grim claim was made by Buckinghamshire Local Pharmaceutical Committee, who gave a presentation to Bucks County Council’s health and adult social care select committee.

The presentation said that community pharmacies (those run outside of NHS premises) are key to strategic planning for health and adult social care in Buckinghamshire, as they offer an accessible local alternative to visiting a GP or using the 111 service, with trained health expertise on hand, often until late in the evening.

It said that the service is essential for vulnerable residents and for those in rural areas and that in some cases pharmacies can prevent a trip to A&E.

They also provide easy local access to flu vaccination, emergency contraception, chlamydia testing and smoking cessation services.

With a reduction of £170 million in the funding for community pharmacies planned by the Department of Health to hit nationally in October 2016, this amounts to a 6% reduction in funding across the board.

And with some small pharmacies relying on NHS funding for up to 90% of their income, this could mean that their business can no longer survive.

Others may have to shed jobs and offer less services.

Angela Macpherson, Chairman of the council committee, said: “I’m most concerned by this. It looks like a hugely short-sighted cut, being an essential service that is seen by many – nationally as well as locally - as part of the solution to the increasing cost of health and adult social care, rather than as part of the problem.

“If this goes ahead, it is likely to have an impact on our more vulnerable residents, and it will certainly add to the workload of our GPs and adult social care services.”