Michael Dugher MP is demanding Government action after shocking new figures showed 1.3 million people would see their walk to a pharmacy increase by at least a mile if their nearest pharmacy closed.
Up to 3,000 pharmacies in England are threatened with closure under Department of Health plans for £200 million of cuts to the pharmacy bill.
In Yorkshire and the Humber, there are 1,266 community pharmacies that dispense almost 10,000 prescription items every month, but these cuts could result in the closure of 300 pharmacies across the region.
Mr Dugher, who has campaigned against the cuts at pharmacies across the constituency, including Lo’s Pharmacy in Worsbrough, has uncovered new research from independent House of Commons statisticians that lifts the lid on the true extent of the “brutal” closure proposals.
Using the Government’s own figures, the House of Commons library has analysed the impact the proposed funding changes could have on pharmacies across England.
The library found that:
- A total of 1.3 million people – one in every 43 people in England – would see their distance to a pharmacy increase by more than 1 mile if their nearest pharmacy closed
- A total of 920,419 people would have to walk between 1 and 2.5 miles farther to a pharmacy if their local one shut
- And 297,384 people would have to travel between 2.5 and 5 miles if their nearest pharmacies shut
The Library said 8.5 million people live in areas where the nearest pharmacy would be eligible for help the Government’s Pharmacy Access Scheme – and they were excluded from the analysis on the assumption that the scheme would protect those pharmacies.
The figures come as both the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) challenge the Government’s cuts in the High Court.
The NPA is seeking to prove the Government failed to consider the impact of funding cuts on the vulnerable such as the elderly and disabled, as well as those from black and ethnic minority communities. Meanwhile, the PSNC has claimed the Government failed to carry out any lawful consultation on the effects of these cuts.
Barnsley East Mr Dugher said: “This independent research reveals the devastating impact the Government’s reckless cuts would have on pharmacies nationwide.
“The Government needs to urgently rethink these cuts which will just pile on the pressure at a time when the NHS is in crisis, with people finding it harder than ever to see their GP or to get seen at A&E. Reducing access to pharmacies can only make a bad situation even worse.
“Community pharmacies are the first point of call for people with minor ailments and they are vital to supporting public health and preventing people needing to see a GP or visit hospital. These cuts will also impact disproportionately on villages and rural communities.
“We had the biggest petition in NHS history about the planned pharmacies closures, but Ministers have point blank refused to listen.”
Mr Dugher also rejected Government claims that it would ease the pain of the cuts with extra cash under its Pharmacy Access scheme.
He said: “Every application for help under the Government’s Pharmacy Access Scheme has been rejected so far. The scheme is a complete con.”