Phil Wilson, MP for Sedgefield, speech for the Opposition Day debate on the future of community pharmacies, on 2nd November 2016.
In my constituency there are 22 pharmacies. 60% are not eligible for the Pharmacy Access Scheme. It is predicted that 6 of them will close.
In the Durham, Darlington and Tees area, there are 271 pharmacies, issuing 2.5 million prescriptions per month, covering a population of 1.2 million.
The Government want to take £170 million out of community pharmacies, which is equivalent to £14,500 per pharmacy. That’s a total of a third of a million pounds out of my constituency or £4 million out of the community pharmacies budget across Durham, Darlington and Tees.
There are no doubt plans to cut the budget again in 2017-18.
A new pharmacy Integration Fund has also been announced. This was originally allocated £300 million over 5 years, but has now been reduced to £42 million over 2 years.
The Government has admitted 3,000 community pharmacies will close as a result of this proposal.
Pharmacy closures will only place further strain on those pharmacies that remain open, and well see more people using A & E when they needn’t.
Pharmacies could be forced to scale back services while at the same time being under increased pressure.
The Government’s own impact assessment states that ‘there is no reliable way of estimating the number of pharmacies that may close as a result of this policy’, so the figure of 3,000 could be a minimum.
Pharmacies offer important services to their local communities, the elderly, the disabled and those with long-term illness and offer vital support to over-stretched GPs and hospitals.
I looked at the statistics. 11,700 community pharmacies.
1.6 million people visit a pharmacy every day.
79% of people have visited a pharmacy at least once in the last 12 months.
75% of adults visit the same pharmacy.
2.7 million items are dispensed every day.
Pharmacies are increasingly seen as a referral mechanism to GPs for patients with possible early symptoms of cancer.
While two in five of the pharmacies in my constituency may be protected, and I say may be, that will mean that three out of the five will not be. Those pharmacies face an unsettled and uncertain future in an area with some of the worst health, deprivation and disability statistics in the country.
But more importantly, it is the tens of thousands of my constituents that use the pharmacies that will be affected the most, will feel that uncertainty the most, and will be unsettled the most.
With all of this in mind, only this Government would introduce a strategy to see the closure of pharmacies which so many of my constituents rely on.