Earlier this year I wrote to Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, to urge him to reconsider plans to cut funding for pharmacies. I know many pharmacists and patients are concerned by the Government's plans. Indeed, a related online petition has attracted over 51,000 signatures.
Pharmacies play a crucial role in our community. They have a significant impact on patient care and provide an essential service in dispensing both medication and the essential information and advice than can prevent people from having to visit their GP for common health problems.
Introducing cuts on this scale to community pharmacy services will not improve primary care outcomes. I am concerned that pharmacies will find it harder to provide the safe, good-quality services we all want to see.
The Government are consulting on their plans for community pharmacies and I hope they carefully consider the responses they receive.
The health service across the country is under enormous pressure. The only way the Government will achieve its planned £22 billion worth of efficiency savings will be by cutting staff, cutting pay and closing essential services.
A different, co-ordinated approach to planning and investment is needed across primary care to ensure that patients get the most out of the NHS and pharmacies.