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National pharmacy cuts put local services at risk

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Milton Keynes Labour Councillors are concerned that the government plans to drastically cut the funding to community pharmacies could see a reduction in community based services which local people rely upon.

The cuts of £170 million will adversely impact the services that community pharmacies currently offer and could result in up to one third of community pharmacies being forced to close. Anne-Marie King, Chief Officer of Northamptonshire and Milton Keynes Local Pharmaceutical Committee, said

“Pharmacies were supposed be at the heart on the NHS but now this vital service to the community is threatened. Pharmacies often assist people to remain in their own homes for longer and offer delivery services free of charge to the elderly and disabled. These types of extra services will undoubtedly be the first casualties of the funding cuts.

If we cannot go on supporting patients in the community in this way then already overstretched GP surgeries will see even more patients coming through their doors. It will also put increased pressure on urgent and emergency care at a time when this area is already struggling to cope and waiting times are getting worse. At the present time patients have access to the services provided by community pharmacy without the need for an appointment and often turn to us when other NHS services are closed.This will be an unsustainable service when funding is reduced by 6%.”

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Councillor Zoe Nolan at local pharmacy

Councillor Zoe Nolan, cabinet member for children and Families on Milton Keynes Council visited her local pharmacy at Hilltops surgery in Great Holm this week. She met with Ruby Dhanoa the pharmacist and learnt about the way pharmacies support communities.

Mrs Dhanoa said "Trust in pharmacists runs especially high in areas of social deprivation. I want to highlight to our patients that there could be up to 3000 closures in communities  that need these services. The pharmacist is someone they can turn to for sound advice."

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Councillor Zoe Nolan, Cabinet member for Children and Families

Councillor Nolan concluded, "I am very concerned about these cuts to community pharmacies because this should be the first place we go and seek help and advice for common health problems. In this area people are already waiting weeks and weeks to get a non-urgent doctor's appointment. Now we have these proposed cuts to our pharmacies. If we lose pharmacies this will add to the pressure on GP surgeries and also accident and emergency departments.

If a quarter of pharmacies close it is predicted that a million extra people per month will be using GP’s and local NHS services across the country. I urge people to let the government know that this is a short sighted plan and the cuts to pharmacies should stop. More than 1.8m  have already signed a petition against the cuts which is available in pharmacies or on line. You can still sign the petition in pharmacies or sign the online version.”

Link to the petition here

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