Pharmacy reprieve welcome, but raises funding questions

bedminster-pharmacy-may-2016-webBristol South MP Karin Smyth has welcomed a government U-turn on its plans to cut £170m from community pharmacies, but has questioned the way the decision was made in the context of the current NHS funding crisis.

Pharmacy Minister David Mowat announced the government had its shelved the plans in a speech on 5 September, acknowledging the role played by a one million-strong petition in influencing government thinking.

Karin Smyth MP, pictured visiting Bedminster Pharmacy earlier in 2016, said: “People who rely on community pharmacies and who signed the one million-strong petition will be pleased that the government has responded.

“The Minister’s announcement is welcome, but it raises fresh questions in the context of the current financial challenges faced by the NHS.

“With NHS England currently undertaking sustainability and transformation plans aimed at tackling major deficits, we need to know more about the basis of the pharmacy u-turn. Has funding been magicked up from elsewhere, or will this decision lead to other cuts elsewhere in the healthcare system?

“As with the sustainability and transformation plans which are being undertaken in secret, transparency is key if taxpayers are going to able to properly understand healthcare funding decisions.”